Residents get Coffee with the Chief

By Thomas Lynn, Valdota Daily Times
Original article HERE

Inside the Chick-Fil-A on St. Augustine Road, residents got the opportunity to put a face with the name of Valdosta’s new chief of police.

Chief Leslie Manahan, along with about half a dozen other police officers, met with people for coffee and breakfast at the restaurant early Tuesday morning for Coffee with the Chief.

This was Manahan’s first Coffee with a Cop event since becoming chief earlier this year, but she attended many of them in the past.

She said the event gave people a chance to put a face to the name and get to know the new chief and her officers on a more personal level.

“It lets people know that we are open and that we have an open dialogue with the community,” Manahan said. “I want everyone to feel like if they need something, they can come to us.”

Meeting with people in a public setting allows people to see police in a different, more relaxed light, organizers said. Most often, when people are speaking with police it is in a bad or stressful situation, Manahan said.

Coffee with the Chief allowed people to speak with the chief and other officers in a place where they feel comfortable and safe, which makes both sides more relaxed.

Stephen Heard eats breakfast at the Chick-Fil-A everyday. Seeing the police chief Tuesday morning, he said he expected to find a crime scene.

Heard said it’s good seeing police out in public not just arresting someone or managing a crime scene.

“It’s unique and different,” he said. “It’s something that is needed. There needs to be communication between police and the citizens. And another thing is that they don’t make enough money.”

For anyone interested in meeting the chief in person but missed the event, there will be more Coffee with the Chief events throughout the year, organizers said.

Ashlyn Becton, Valdosta City’s public information officer, said the city plans on scheduling out multiple events throughout the city. The events will mostly be in the morning, so they can catch people on their way to work, she said.

Becton said organizers chose Chick-Fil-A as the first stop because it is a popular establishment.

“We caught a lot of people who didn’t know about the event who got to meet Chief Manahan, which is great,” Becton said. “It really gives everyone a comfortable setting to talk to the officers. That’s really important, because the better that relationship, the more people will call the police when they need them.”