Coffee with a cop program rolled out state wide

By Tricia Hamilton, Fairfield Advance
Original article HERE

FAIRFIELD LAC have been the Australian pioneers for the ‘coffee with a cop’ initiative which rolls out statewide this month.

Once a month, Fairfield police have been getting together with locals and February 23 marks the day over 55 commands across the state will gather for an opportunity to grab a cup of coffee and get to know the people of their communities.

Fairfield’s Commander, Superintendent Peter Lennon said it all started when he attended a conference in America.

“I heard about it through the FBI when they were talking about different community engagement activities and I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea,” he said.

After some co-ordination with community leaders, Fairfield began hosting these events five years ago and Supt. Lennon said it’s great to see it embraced by the whole NSW police force.

“The strength of it’s success comes from it breaking down barriers,” Supt. Lennon said.

“We talk about everything from international soccer through to teenage daughters not cleaning their room … we’re not talking to people, we’re talking with people.”

In diverse areas such as Fairfield, this type of conversation has been imperative for the ease of the newest arrivals.

“What I didn’t realise until recently is how culturally important it was to offer a cup of coffee to a Middle Eastern person,” said Supt. Lennon.

“Offering a cup of coffee is offering your friendship, so for a police officer to offer that is really significant for someone from the Middle East.”

Supt. Lennon said most people are generally interested in talking to police, but most contact prior to these events are less than positive.

“It’s an opportunity to see police as human beings who do a job,” he said.

And if someone has a police issue to discuss, Supt. Lennon said there are police from Highway Patrol, the domestic violence unit or detectives on hand to help