Coffee with a cop

By Audrey Caro, Polk County Itemizer-Observer
Original article HERE

MPD Coffee with a Cop.JPGYou may have noticed some extra workers behind the counter at the Dallas Starbucks last Wednesday. Polk County Sheriff’s deputies honed their barista skills while they participated in the national Coffee with a Cop day on Oct. 2.

Monmouth, Independence and Dallas officers stayed on the other side of the counter, but enjoyed chatting with customers throughout the morning.

The annual event is an opportunity for law enforcement officers to build positive relationships with the people in the communities they serve.

At Java Crew, Monmouth Police greeted customers and chatted with them while they got their morning brews.

“It gives us a friendlier face than at a traffic stop,” said Ben Hamilton, Monmouth reserve officer. It gave them a chance to make small talk with people, though some people did stop for longer conversations.

Independence officers set up at the Independence Hotel. At least one person took the opportunity to sit on Officer Lance Inman’s motorcycle.

IPD Sgt. Sarah Scharf toured the hotel with some community members, while Sgt. Justin Hedlund chatted with people in the lobby.

It was the first time Hedlund’s schedule allowed him to attend the annual event.

“It’s a great opportunity to engage with community members,” Hedlund said.

Coffee with a Cop was started in Hawthorne, Calif. in 2011.

“Members of the Hawthorne Police Department were looking for ways to interact more successfully with the citizens they served each day,” according to the event website.

HPD thought having a cup of coffee together would help break through some of the barriers that have developed between community members and officers over the years.

“The key to Coffee with a Cop’s growing success is that it opens the door for interactions outside of the crisis situations that typically bring law enforcement officers and community members together,” according to the website.