Casual conversations and coffee with cops

By Sean Goodwin, The Poly Post
Original article HERE

Cal Poly Pomona police officers celebrated the second annual Coffee with a Cop Day outside Starbucks with free coffee and conversations for any students who passed by.

The event, last Wednesday, allowed students to freely talk to cops in a casual environment. Even Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety Dario Robinson was found joking with anybody willing to take the effort to walk up and speak to him.

“Here we get a chance to interact a little closer with the community,” said Robinson.  “Let them see that there’s actually people behind the uniform.  We’re not just these robots walking around or driving around on campus.”

Many students decided to attend the event for the promise of free coffee, but many also stayed because they found themselves in enlightening conversations.

Police Lt. Aaron Eaton found pleasure in being able to talk to many students about a variety of topics.

“Today, I’ve had conversations about students who want a career in law enforcement to talking about parking and some of the strategies that we use to try to get students, staff, and faculty off and on the campus,” said Eaton.

The goal of the event was to create a sense of unity between the students and the police on campus.

It’s very easy for anybody to be scared of interacting with an officer, and people like Training and Operations Specialist Amanda Elias wanted to bridge that gap.

“We definitely need to improve on letting the campus community know that we’re here,” said Elias.  “We want to be used as a resource.  A lot of times everyone sees the officers on campus and they’ll think, ‘Oh, there’s an officer.  What’s going on?’  They think the worst right away, but we want to engage.  We want to say, ‘Hey! How are you?’”

Students were definitely taking advantage of the opportunity, and those same students left smiling over the encounters they ended up partaking in.

In the wake of traumatic tragedies that have occurred recently, an event like this can keep the morale of students high.

It’s easy to start feeling unsafe, even in the relatively safe campus of CPP.

“The world is changing,” said Robinson. “With social media, you’ve got something that could happen in New York, and, within 30 seconds, we all know. We’re getting actual pictures of what’s happening, and it really shrinks the world down. I hope because of that shrinking of the world, and because of social media that people start to see each other more as just people.”

Trying to achieve a sense of unity was a strong desire of the police department, and it was hard not to sense that unity when so many students started building relationships just by having the courage to simply talk to the officers.

That opportunity for discussion doesn’t stop at the event either. Many officers stressed their willingess to connect with students, whether it’s for help or just to build relationships.

“We, at the police department, are here for everybody. We’re a 24/7, 365-day-a-year police department. We have a full-time dispatch center, and we’re here to help,” said Eaton. “We’re an entire police department designed to make the campus as safe as absolutely possible.”