Johns Creek police listen to what’s on public’s mind

By Hatcher Hurd, North Fulton Herald
Original article HERE

Officer M.E. Meberg chats with residents at Starbucks as part of the Police Department’s Coffee with a Cop program.

The Johns Creek Police Department can take a lot of the credit for Johns Creek’s designation (again) as the Safest City in Georgia – but the department is not resting on its laurels.

That is why the department held another one of its infrequent Coffee with a Cop sessions Nov. 28, at the Starbucks coffee shop on Medlock Bridge Road.

Billed as “no agenda or speeches, just a chance to ask questions and voice concerns,” the Police Department wanted to give local citizens the chance to get to know some of the officers who patrol their neighborhoods.

“We just want to give people a chance to tell us in a relaxed atmosphere what concerns they may have or any complaints,” said officer M.E. Meberg with the department’s Community Services division. “We hold one or two of these a year as a way to meet people and just have a conversation.”

“We welcome people to just walk up and talk to us. Folks might be a little hesitant to do it in a more formal setting. So we like to meet them at a place like Starbucks where it’s more relaxed,” he said.

It was relaxed, but a Starbucks on a Tuesday afternoon – at least at this Starbucks – was a fairly bustling if not to say noisy place. High school students find it a friendly place to do homework, and adults were indulging in lattes.

But there were plenty of people talking to the cops. Resident Karen Allen came in to hand out Starbucks gift cards for the officers.

“I’ve lived here a long time and I just wanted to thank them for the job they do,” Allen said. “I can’t imagine why anyone would want the job of being a policeman in this day and age, but I am just thankful that they do.”

New to Johns Creek, Julie Longino decided to check it out.

“When I used to live in Atlanta, there was no city or police interaction at all. Here, the police come to my son’s school so he could learn about them,” Longino said. “We just moved here at the end of September. I think this is great.”

Mark Collins lives in the Prestwick subdivision and will be rolling onto his homeowners association at the first of the year. He has already been through the johns Creek Citizens Police Academy. He said he was “reconnecting” with the officers here.

“I would like to sponsor them to come to one of our homeowner meetings to speak to the homeowners,” Collins said. “I would like for the homeowners to have a more hands-on contact with them.”

Meberg said the program he runs is based on a national program about community policing.

“The idea is to meet citizens in a casual environment,” he said. “It’s an ‘anti-mystification’ thing. We want to show people we are part of the community. We live in Johns Creek, too.

“Johns Creek is a safe city and we want to keep it that way. And we want the officers to feel welcome in the community, so this is just basically to give the community the chance to come out and meet us,” he said.

The biggest goal is to overcome any hesitancy on the part the community to call 911 to report anything they see that might be amiss. Whether it is a possible crime or some other emergency, Meberg wants the public to know they need their eyes and ears out there.

“This city is 32 square miles and it’s hard to cover all of it,” he said.