“Coffee With A Cop” Is Bringing Communities Together
By Alex Hamilton, Newswire
Original article HERE
There’s a new coffee trend in town, but this time it’s not single origin coffee or fancy cappuccino designs. The new upcoming coffee trend is bringing new friends into our lives and is slowly becoming the change that we hope to see in the world.
Last Wednesday, customers who visited coffee shops may have come across an unusual scene: men and women in police uniforms having a coffee break and bonding with locals. Did they all finish their shifts at the same time? Did something terrible happen nearby? It’s not until they ask, or they see a sign, and they find out that it’s a planned event.
On Wednesday 2nd, thousands of communities across the country participated in the annual ‘Coffee with a Cop’ Day. Law enforcement and communities can join together and bond in the best social spot in the neighborhood – the coffee shop.
National “coffee With a Cop” Day
National Coffee with a Cop Day is a national day that is observed annually on the first Wednesday of October. While “Coffee with a Cop” events were already taking place throughout the year, it became an official day in 2016.
Coffee with a Cop is a nonprofit organization with a mission to break down the barriers between law enforcement officers and members of the community. The program became a new means of communication, and it has become one of the most successful community-oriented policing programs in the country.
How it All Started
The idea originated from Hawthorne, California, in the Hawthorne Police Department. Hawthorne police officers were looking for ways to foster better communication between locals and police. They wanted a better way to understand the needs and concerns of the community, and they believed it could be done over casual coffee conversations.
In March 2011, they hosted their first “Coffee with a Cop” event in Hawthorne, California’s Community Affairs Units. It was such a huge success that a nationally available training program was created.
Then, in May 2014, it officially became an international sensation when Canada held its first “Coffee with a Cop” event in Montreal. In 2016, the event was completed in every state of the country, and the organization had registered the first Wednesday of October as the official annual National Coffee with a Cop Day.
In June 2018, the organization had been officially set as a nonprofit organization. They have expanded to include instructors for those who are interested in hosting an event in their establishment.
Why This Is Important
Often the community’s only interaction with law enforcement is during crises or unfortunate incidents. Social events give people a chance to meet officers outside of stressful situations. In a calm, friendly environment, residents have an opportunity to talk to cops about their role in the community, give feedback, or learn more about each other.
Amid police-associated violence reports, discussions, and tensions have polarized the groups more than ever. By providing a neutral ground, it opens the dialogue between officers and the community. The initiative shines a light on what is going on, why it is happening, and what can be done to about it. The event aims to fix any of the issues between law enforcement and the community.
Locals have the chance to get familiar with those who protect and serve them and ask questions about the police department. In turn, the law enforcement departments are given a voice and have the chance to develop and strengthen citizen trust and communication.
Who Can Participate
Anyone can participate in the events that are being hosted in the area. Communities members can search on the official Coffee with a Cop website for any events listed. If there are no events available, they can bring it up with their local department, or contact the organization to alert the department on the resident’s behalf.
For those who are interested in volunteering or hosting, there are some steps that need to be taken, such as training how to initiate and maintain engagement, and preparations for the big event.
Current and retired law enforcement officers are encouraged to participate and go through specialized training to provide a comfortable and welcoming environment for guests. The organization has resources and tools available for departments to successfully train and host their Coffee with a Cop event.
Coffee shops, businesses, or organizations that want to host an event can contact their local law enforcement department or the CWAC. Many well-known coffee franchises use this as an opportunity to promote exclusive deals to show their appreciation.
For agencies and departments, there are training courses available that prepare participants to ensure the event runs smoothly the following morning. Instructors provide their expertise and experience, as well as help out at the event afterward. The cost of training is free, and class sizes can range between 25 to 100 students, but there is no maximum set on participants.
Breaking Down the Walls
Thanks to the efforts of the Hawthorne Police Department and the Department of Justice, the cause has gained traction with no plans of faltering any time soon. Police officers and citizens all across the country (and the globe) are looking forward to more open and honest communication from which both sides could benefit.