|National Coffee with a Cop Day in Arlington, TX.|
|Sergeant Waltz meets with a patron, too young for coffee but ready to talk in Canton, MI.|
On October 7th, police officers and community members came together for National Coffee with a Cop Day. Conversation topics took on different tones in different communities, ranging from concern about police-involved shootings to getting to know what the day in the life of an officer looks like.
The mission of Coffee with a Cop is to break down the barriers between police officers and the people they serve, to get to know each other, to build trust, and to discover mutual goals for the community. The Coffee with a Cop program was started by the Hawthorne, CA Police Department in 2011 to create a neutral setting where people could feel comfortable discussing whatever was on their minds with law enforcement.
This year, Coffee with a Cop events were held across the U.S. Below are a few of the many examples.
NIOT Filming Coffee With a Cop in Arlington, TX
In Arlington Texas, three tables of officers set up in a Dunkin Donuts shop. Three African American faith leaders, Reverend Ron Goines, Reverend Dwight McKissick, and his Vera McKissick, spent nearly an hour talking about the deep rift between the African American community and police over police shootings. But their remarkable conversation (to be featured in an upcoming NIOT film about Arlington) also focused on the positive relationships between the police and the African American community, and included brainstorming for action events to improve those relationships further.
Canton, Michigan police officers focused on encouraging residents to report all suspicious activity while making a clear definition as to what suspicious activity means. For instance, someone walking down the street with a hijab or turban does not define suspicious activity. Someone walking from car-to-car and looking inside in the middle of the night would be suspicious.
One woman wanted to know what she should tell her teenage sons to do if they were ever stopped by the police. Other residents had questions about parking issues, Concealed Pistol License (CPL) regulations, phone and e-mail scams, preventing crime, the Citizens Police Academy, and Ride-Along program.
One resident commented “I never realized how much you do for our community or the amount of work you do every day. I thought it was more of a “cowboy-type” atmosphere but I realize now that there is a lot of accountability for the officers and each other.”
"We had a very positive reaction to the event," Officer Dale Waltz said. "The only criticisms we had were that it was a small venue and the time frame was not conducive for those that work during the day. Therefore, we scheduled another Coffee With A Cop event in November."
Lt. Travis Martinez (right) and Officer Dave Frisch (left) answering questions at Bricks and Birch. (Photo | Socorro Pantaleon)
In Redlands, Calfornia, near the site of last year's San Bernadino shootings, officers met with residents at a local coffee shop called Bricks and Birch. Lt. Travis Martinez and Officer Dave Frisch took questions and spoke with about 15 residents about different topics affecting the city. Key topics discussed included homelessness, crime statistics and trends, business issues, and other security programs. The Redlands Police Department hopes to do these "Coffee With a Cop" events on a regular basis.
Photos of Coffee with a Cop 2016
These stories were gathered from the Not In Our Town Law Enforcement Leaders Network created through the Safe, Inclusive Communities initiative with the COPS Office. The response was incredible - many agencies throughout the country participated in the national effort to promote conversation and dialogue between police officers and their communities. Here are just a few of the many examples throughout the country, inluding San Francisco, CA, Redlands, CA, Medina Township,OH, Gary, Indiana, Arlington, TX, Canton, MI, Bellevue, WA.
Past Coffee With a Cop Events and Community Outreach