Oxford police hope residents come out for Coffee with a Cop

Feb. 25, 2014 @ 06:54 PM

OXFORD — It all starts with the neighborly act of getting a cup of coffee.

The national Coffee with a Cop program seeks to increase communication between officers and the people they protect.

The concept is fairly simple: Bring police and community members together in a more casual setting than they ordinarily would.

“I think too many times people meet the police, and they meet them under less than perfect circumstances; either they’re a victim of a crime, or when they’re being stopped for a violation,” Oxford Police Chief Al Coley said. “This gives everybody a chance to get together and talk as neighbors and as friends. The conversation can go anywhere.”

The first event, held at McDonald’s at 9 a.m. Thursday, will be the first of an ongoing outreach effort. Coley said he hopes to hold events at least quarterly.

Detective Pat Ford, who will be hosting this time, said she hoped the community would take advantage of the chance to get to know officers on a more informal basis.

“Just that cohesion between the citizens and the police department,” she said. “Really give them the opportunity to talk to us one on one and just share any questions or concerns that they may have.”

Coley said he heard about the program from other chiefs through the N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police and thought it would dovetail well with his department’s community policing efforts.

Though it’s not yet popular in North Carolina, the idea has taken off in other states, and Coley said it was worth trying.

“We’re definitely trying to build community relations,” he said. “We’re trying to put a face with the badge so people will know us.”

Coffee with a Cop also allows residents to give feedback to officers directly, to give compliments or even to discuss problems.

Regardless of what people want to discuss, Coley said he wants this to serve as a bridge-building exercise between his officers and the people they serve.

“We hope we have a great turnout,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to it. We’re excited about it. Especially with spring approaching, it’s sort of the time to begin anew.”

 

Contact the writer @vshortley@hendersondispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at @herding_stets.