The Mt. Juliet Police Department spiced it up Saturday afternoon at the precinct.
The department turned the heat up against crime with their second annual community chili-cook off and community appreciation event.
It was a gathering for the community to unite citizens and let them meet the men and women who protect them. Chief James Hambrick's goal from day one was to beef up community policing.
He and his department sponsor other events such as their Coffee With a Cop that is held regularly early mornings at local businesses.
"It was great to see many in our community come out to police headquarters to meet us, enjoy chili from the Chili Cook Off teams, and simply have a great time," MJPD Lt. Tyler Chandler said. "This is our second year to have this, and it is nice to see it continue to grow. We've received a lot of good comments about it."
Hundreds of people attended the event that sprawled across the precinct grounds from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There were many examples of police equipment, vehicles and technology.
The kids gravitated to the SWAT unit where they were able to put on the 30-pound vest and hold the shield.
The Fire Department of Mt. Juliet's engine was on hand, as well as Fire Chief Jamie Luffman.
There were inflatables, games, a miniature pony sporting pink, glittery tennis shoes from Build a Bear, a huge St. Bernard representing the local animal shelter, and of course tons of chili free for those who dared the spiciest. Most of the chili was made by local business employees and judged by officials, as well as citizens.
Siblings Lucas, 5, and Holley Jenkins, 4, came with their mom Laura dressed in uniforms representing the police.
"They are obsessed with the police," said mom.
Lucas said he loved police because, "They project our county and us."
Officer Justin Cagle informed passersby about the department's Special Response Team, and members of the Wilson County Emergency Services Rehab 23 team were on hand as well.
"The turnout was great, and it is always exciting to see and meet new faces at our events," Hambrick said. "Whether it is Coffee With a Cop or the Community Appreciation Day, I enjoy meeting our citizens.
Mt. Juliet Police Department's motto is 'Community Strong,' and the event highlights our efforts to maintain a strong bond with the community. We are blessed to have such a supportive city."
"There's a lot of tasty chili here," he added.
However some of the teams' chili emerged victorious in the contest.
Chief's Award- The Chillbillies; People's Choice - Freshprept Food; Business/Organization First Place Team - State Representative Susan Lynn; Business/Organization Second Place Team - T-Mobile; Neighborhood First Place Team - The Enforcers; Neighborhood Second Place Team - Where's My Hose At?
Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at email@example.com.