Building relationships: ‘Coffee with a Cop’ event great example for other agencies

By The Richmond Register
Original article HERE

Breaking down barriers between police, or any government agency, and the citizens they serve can be difficult.

However, one local police department took a big step last Saturday to do just that.

The Richmond Police Department hosted its first “Coffee with a Cop” event. The goal was to allow community members to ask questions, get answers and get to know the officers who serve them on a daily basis.

It’s a simple idea, but can be powerful.

The event allowed citizens and police officers to meet at a neutral location in a casual atmosphere. Those ingredients over time can lead to the ultimate goal — building a relationship.

While many agencies say the door is always open for citizens to come in, it can be intimidating for citizens to visit the agency and share complaints or thoughts.

At “Coffee with a Cop,” citizens were at a neutral location — Purdy’s Coffee — and it was a relaxed atmosphere where they could sit down with officers and share what was on their mind.

Sgt. Josh Hale said officers heard a lot of “‘thank yous,’ ‘we’re glad you’re here’ and ‘thanks for serving us.’” Richmond Police Chief James Ebert said people also were bringing up their concerns.

When people feel comfortable enough to talk about their concerns, it is then that positive change can occur.

Ebert was correct in saying “these interactions are the foundation of our community partnerships.”

The only way to truly know somebody — or the community — is to meet them. Events like “Coffee with a Cop” do exactly that.

It’s an event we’re glad to see in our community. In fact, we at The Register will soon be hosting an event for our readers and community members. Hearing their thoughts, concerns and suggestions is the best way to produce a great product or service.

We hope other police agencies and government offices will follow the example set by the Richmond Police Department. Get out in the community in neutral, relaxed locations and get to know who you are serving.

It’s time we build relationships and make our community even better.