Coffee with a Cop expands, looks to grow community engagement
By Ryan Moore, WDAM
Original article HERE
The monthly Coffee with a Cop meeting is venturing to other locations around the Hub City.
City officials and police are hoping it will draw more community engagement, helping them be more in touch with residents, and hearing issues and concerns.
Tuesday morning’s location was at T-Bones, and Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker deemed it a success.
“This month, they’ve tried something different, they moved it around a little bit and I think we had a great turnout here at T-Bones,” said Barker. “Chief Parker and his team brought this idea in 2015 to try and bring our police officers into the public, to have conversations, to build community.”
Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker said moving locations allows more people from other areas in the city attend.
“Actually, we had a lot of requests in different neighborhoods to come be more accessible to them, and we will move it around a little bit more to try to get more areas of the city and that’s what it’s all about, being accessible to the public,” said Parker.
“We’ve encouraged our police force to go where people are, because this idea of community policing, this idea of knowing the different neighborhoods and who lives there makes our entire neighborhood and city safer,” said Barker.
“It gets us engaged with the community, gives them a chance to come meet us as people and see us in a different light,” said Parker.
“We want more people engaged in conversation with our officers, the more people talk and let us know what’s going on in their neighborhood, whether it’s a good situation or a bad situation, the better that our men and women in uniform can do their job,” said Barker.
Parker said these events are easy and great ways for people to voice their concerns on an informal basis.
“They are our eyes and ears, which you know…this gives them a chance to gripe to us, a lot of people don’t want to be a formal grievance or complaint, they just want to sit down to somebody face to face,” said Parker.