Conversing with cops in Fort Morgan
By Jenni Grubbs, Fort Morgan Times
Original article HERE
Paul Schultz has set meeting Fort Morgan community members as part of his mission as the city’s new chief of public safety.
But he expects the members of Fort Morgan Police Department to do the same.
To that end, the department held a total of six Coffee with a Cop sessions at various restaurants and venues around the city over the course of the last five days, meeting with at least 146 people in total, according to Community Resource Officer Roger Doll.
“Our goal was 100, so we passed it by almost 50 percent,” Schultz said. “We’re excited about it.”
Schultz, Doll and various other FMPD supervisors and officers spent time visiting with whoever showed up, letting them ask questions and find out more about the city’s police officers and department.
“Chief (Schultz) has a lot of good ideas for getting out into the community, like this, so people can see an officer,” Doll said.
On Monday, they met with around 35 people at Morgan Community College. Smaller crowds showed up Tuesday at Cafe Lotus and Wednesday at Zazzy Cafe. On Thursday, they met with many people at Fort Morgan Senior Center, and then an impromptu session also was added that day at McDonald’s. Friday brought the week’s last session, which was held at Arby’s. Some people stopped by specifically for Coffee with a Cop, and others who were there for lunch found Schultz and Doll introducing themselves to them.
“This is a great way to meet the community,” Schultz said Friday during the Coffee with a Cop session at Arby’s. “We’re getting good feedback from the community. It’s clear to me that the community appreciates and respects the Fort Morgan Police Department.”
He and his department members heard about various concerns from residents, including various traffic issues and worries about the increasing transient population in the city.
“I don’t think we’re hearing anything unexpected,” Doll said, but he added that they did hear some specific concerns from people, and some of them were repeated by multiple people. “Sometimes you hear the same concern over and over, but that lets us know it’s something we should be concerned about.”
But they also heard lots of words of encouragement and support for the work FMPD does in the city, both Schultz and Doll said.
While hearing kind words about the department was gratifying for Schultz, Doll and the other officers, making connections where people felt comfortable approaching the police and then expressing their concerns and wants was a major part of the goal of the Coffee with a Cop sessions.
“I think it’s great that we have this face-to-face communication,” Schultz said.
School Resource Officer Tim Malone went to Friday’s Coffee with a Cop session at Arby’s, where he saw many folks he recognized. One group of retired gentlemen he visited with are regulars at Arby’s who “come in every day and have coffee and talk,” Malone said, calling it “kind of cool” to get to visit with them.
“It’s important for the community to know who the officers are,” Malone said. “This gives us a chance to get out and shake hands and talk face to face.”
Schultz was pleased with how the Coffee with a Cop sessions went, and he plans to hold more such events in the future.
Other community outreach programs FMPD is working on include getting more Neighborhood Watch groups going and offering an Enhanced Crime Prevention Services program. The latter is something Doll is heading up, with the community resource officer offering to come to homes or businesses and help people create “personalized” plans for preventing crime.
“Give me a call,” Doll said. “I can look for things to do to make it less vulnerable to crime.”
He had not gotten any calls yet as of Friday afternoon, but that program is just getting started.