By Nikki Smith, Hub City Spokes
Original article HERE

Officers from Petal Police Department, Petal School District and Forrest County gathered at Petal High School last week to get to know students in the district with Coffee with a Cop.

“We interacted with students and kind of let them know that we are here for them and not to be scared of us, and it was a real good turn out,” said Petal School District Police Chief Gavin Guy.

This is the second Coffee with a Cop event that has been held in the city in the past month. The Officers and residents of Petal gathered at Mom and Dad’s Country Cooking on Nov. 1.

The first event was brought to the city by 13-year-old Anna Beeson.

“This was the first time we have done Coffee with a Cop,” Marx said. “It is the project of Anna Beeson, a 13-year-old girl in our city who wanted to bring the police and the public together in a positive way.”

Beeson plans to host another Coffee with a Cop sometime in January.

“I think it is important for citizens to see police officers as human beings who are there to protect them,” Marx said. “Too often we see officers portrayed on TV or in the movies in less-than-ideal fashion. That, coupled with the misinformation spread in the media over the past couple of years regarding police shootings, some citizens might be afraid to approach a police officer.”

Guy said these events open up a line of communication between officers and residents.

“After meeting us, they may be more likely to speak up if they see something now that they know that we are there for them and not out to get them,” Guy said.

Marx said the idea is to make residents feel more comfortable with speaking with officers for the same reasons.

“Sharing a cup of coffee and having a conversation allows citizens to get to know our officers and feel more comfortable coming to them with information that might solve a crime, or keep our community safe,” Marx said.

Guy said he was pleased with the number of students that turned out for the first Coffee with a Cop.

“I was pleased with the students that came,” he said. “They hung out with us and talked with us. It was a good time to fellowship with the kids.”