Coffee with a Cop is on a mission to improve trust and build relationships – one cup of coffee at a time.
Coffee with A Cop was launched in Hawthorne, California in 2011, as a result of a brainstorming session. Members of the Hawthorne Police Department were looking for ways to interact more successfully with the citizens they served each day.
Community policing has long been considered a framework for establishing trust between the community and the police. However, over time the character and composition of our nation’s communities have changed due to shifting demographics, more commuters, and the introduction of different communication methods such as websites and social media.
The Hawthorne Police Department hit upon a simple plan to break through the barriers that have been built over the years–a cup of coffee.
In less than five years, Coffee with a Cop events have been hosted in all 50 states and is one of the most successful community oriented policing programs across the country. The program has also expanded to outside the Unites States to Canada, Europe, Australia, and Africa. The key to Coffee with a Cop’s growing success is that it opens the door for interactions outside of the crisis situations that typically bring law enforcement officers and community members together.
Hawthorne, California's Police Department Community Affairs Unit hosts first Coffee with a Cop event.
A national training program is established through a partnership between the Hawthorne Police Department and the University of Illinois’ Center for Public Safety and Justice.
First international Coffee with a Cop held in Montreal, Canada.
With Honolulu PD hosting their first event, Coffee with a Cop is now in all 50 States
COPS office supports and establishes a National Coffee with a Cop day where every law enforcement agency in the United States hosts a Coffee with a Cop event on the same day. The National Coffee with a Cop day will be held on the first Wednesday of October annually.
Coffee with a Cop National Program
The officers behind Coffee with a Cop have served communities in a variety of units – from Narcotics to SWAT to Department leaders. They all share a commitment to collaboration and relationship-building.
Sergeant Chris Cognac has been a police officer with the Hawthorne Police Department since 1992. He is the main National Instructor for the Coffee with a Cop training class.
He is currently assigned to the Community Affairs Unit but has served in numerous capacities from uniform patrol to undercover narcotics supervisor. Cognac is a true believer in the ability of individual officers making a difference in the communities they serve. He uses his networking and communication skills as a force multiplier, putting people who want to help the community with those in need of an opportunity.
In his work to take the Coffee with a Cop program nationwide, Sergeant Cognac has assisted officers and police departments across the country in implementing their own events that aim to build good communications and trust within those communities. Cognac, is a graduate of the Delinquency Control Institute at the University of Southern California. in his spare time, he is a food and travel writer for magazines and newspapers and develops new food television concepts. He also hosted his own Food Network TV show, The Hungry Detective.
He recently served as a Fellow for the Office of Community Policing (COPS office) in Washington D.C. where he served as a subject matter expert for community policing development and law enforcement social media.
Lieutenant Robbie Williams is a 22-year veteran with the Hawthorne Police Department and was the Community Affairs Unit Supervisor. He is currently assigned as a Patrol Watch Commander. After Captain Kauffman left HPD to become the Chief at the Redondo Beach Police Department in 2015, Lieutenant Williams has been the main National Instructor (with Sgt. Cognac) for the Coffee with a Cop training classes.
Currently, he leads efforts to bridge relations between the police and citizens, including initiatives like hosting Crime Prevention Workshops for business owners and community members.
Lieutenant Williams has taught Community Orientated Policing and Introduction to Criminal Justice at the community college level and is a recipient of the 2015 Homer L. Garrott Community Service Award. Lieutenant Williams is a graduate of the Sherman Block Leadership Institute, and the California State University Los Angeles Edmund G. Brown Institute for Public Affairs “Problem Oriented Policing” program.
Chief Robert Fager started his law enforcement career with HPD in 1990 and has led the Hawthorne Police Department since 2011.
Chief Fager serves in key membership and leadership positions within the law enforcement community. These include membership and committee-seats within the International (IACP) and California (CPCA) Police Chief’s Associations. He is a standing member of the Los Angeles County Police Chief’s Association, Executive Board Member to the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Taskforce [LA IMPACT], Executive Member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force [JTTF] and Past-President of the South Bay Police Chiefs Group.
His community based efforts are focused in positions such as West Coast advisor to the National ‘Safe Surfin Foundation’ (which advocates protection of children from internet predators), Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, and member of the South Bay Work Investment Board’s ‘Youth Development Council’.
Captain Michael Ishii has been with the Hawthorne Police Department since 1990 and currently handles the administrative responsibilities and all correspondence through the Coffee with a Cop website (which he helped create). He occasionally travels with Sergeant Cognac and Lieutenant Williams to teach the Coffee with a Cop class.
Motor Officer John Dixon is a 26 year veteran of the police department and has served in assignments in uniformed patrol, motorcycle traffic enforcement, fraud and identity theft investigations and the aviation bureau. Dixon is currently a National Instructor with the Coffee with a Cop program and is happy that his simple grassroots idea has become a national initiative. He is an avid reader of American and British History and enjoys woodworking and home projects with his family.
He currently oversees the social media sites for the national Coffee with a Cop Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Keith Kauffman has been a police officer since 1994 for the City of Hawthorne. His experience encompasses an array of assignments including patrol, gangs, narcotics, SWAT and more. He has served as a team-member and commander and is a two-time “Medal of Valor” recipient. He achieved the rank of Captain in 2008 and began working on the Coffee with a Cop program in 2011. Chief Kauffman holds a BA Degree from UCLA in Spanish Literature/Linguistics and an MS Degree from CSDHU in Negotiations/Conflict Management. He is also the 2014 graduate of the California POST Command College, Class 55, and winner of the Dorothy Harris Award for his published journal article.
Chief Kauffman was selected as the new Chief of Police for the Redondo Beach Police Department, CA in October of 2015. Although no longer teaching the training class, Chief Kauffman remains an important consultant and advocate for the program.