But now they want to hear residents’ concerns and opinions, and preferably over a mug of piping hot java.
Enter Coffee with a Cop, a new initiative aiming to improve trust and enhance transparency between area stakeholders and officers. Rather than talking with cops during serious or stressful times, residents can approach them in a neutral setting to discuss any public security matters or other community issues.
About 200 law enforcement agencies across the U.S. participate in some version of the Coffee with a Cop program.
Sandusky police Chief John Orzech, who has quarterbacked efforts to improve community relations since becoming the city’s top cop a year ago, answered some questions about the program:
Q: Can you give some background on this program?
JO: The Coffee with a Cop program began in Hawthorne, Calif., at least the program we’re modeling ours after. The program is designed and being implemented for citizens to meet with police officers in a non-confrontational setting, to have a cup of coffee and talk. There are no agendas, no guest speakers. It’s the cops and citizens talking, sharing ideas and asking questions that they want answered.
Q: What do you ultimately want to achieve?
JO: The goal that I have for the program is to have our officers accessible to our citizens and have a dialogue. This is just another way we’re trying to reach the community and be engaged as much as we can. It’s something that we’re doing in Sandusky because community outreach is necessary to continue building relationships, partnerships and collaboration with our business community, citizens and visitors.
Q: How will the program work?
JO: We will be having different officers attend the program so the citizens can get a variety of perspectives. We will promote which officers will be attending in advance of the events. The residents can expect to get a cup of coffee, have a chat with an officer if they have questions or concerns. It’s one-on-one interaction with the officers that are there. I am planning on having four officers or so attend the programs.
WHAT: Coffee with a Cop — informal meeting among area stakeholders and Sandusky police. All community members are encouraged to attend.
WHERE: Mr. Smith’s Coffee House, 140 Columbus Ave., Sandusky
WHEN: 9-11 a.m. April 17