How to fight crime with coffee — Fairfield police program spreads across Australia

A year after Fairfield police introduced a groundbreaking program in which officers chat to residents over free coffee, commands around Australia are following their lead.

Fairfield Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon said close to a dozen police commands had started or were interested in starting the Coffee With A Cop program, including some in Perth.

“It’s just spreading,” Supt Lennon said. “This is … making a relationship with people before things go wrong.”

To help educate other police commands, Fairfield local area command has created a training package with footage of successful coffee events, templates for signs and advice on ways to include minority groups.

Supt Lennon said police had even learned to have 10 flat white coffees ready for residents when the event began.

Supt Lennon said that while some hard intelligence was collected at the coffee events, their main purpose was to build links with the community, which then helped to prevent crime.

“I’d much prefer to sit down here and have a chat with people about what’s going on and then them ring later … with things before they become an issue,” he said.

At a recent event in Villawood, officers met a man who had emigrated from Syria.

“He was quite afraid of my uniform. Then we started to talk and he started to realise that the police in NSW are completely different to … Syria,” Supt Lennon said. “He’s changing his perceptions of what the police are about.”

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