Raise your hand if you’ve heard of large conflicts between communities and their police departments recently. It’s an issue on everyone’s minds, and agencies nationwide are considering ways to diffuse the tension between civilians and the officers that serve them.
One solution has been around for a few years, with positive results. In 2011, a local California police department began meeting at their local McDonalds every six weeks to meet with their citizens over coffee and chat openly about the issues facing their community. Called “Coffee with a Cop”, the program has grown substantially and is now being implemented by agencies in all but six states across the US.
How does it work? Three or four cops will set up a couple of tables at a cafe and provide free coffee for the community. Anyone is welcome to come by and discuss local issues and concerns with the officers. Many agencies set up displays and provide handouts on pertinent issues, such as identity theft or a new harmful drug on the market, that people can take home with them. Hawthorne, the California police agency that began the program, also uses iPads to survey and analyze the information that citizens give them.
It will take creative solutions to diffuse the increasing tension between citizens and officers. Coffee with a Cop is creating open dialogue across the country and building relationships between law enforcement and their communities.
Interested in starting a “Coffee With a Cop” program in your city? Visit their facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/coffeewithacop. For more information, visit their website at http://www.coffeewithacop.com/ .