The Buena Vista Police Department observed national Coffee With A Cop Day for the first time Oct. 6 at Brown Dog Coffee.
From 3 to 6 p.m., a handful of officers mingled with community members at the north side of the café.
“Our goal is the community policing concept, meaning we want to be accessible to the citizens and approachable,” said BVPD chief Dean Morgan.
CWAC is one such way to make a community connection. The event started in 2011 with a department in southern California and went national in 2016.
“From my perspective, the event felt good,” Morgan said.
He said a number of citizens who were already acquainted with members of the police force stopped in to chat.
For future events, he said, he intends to make the setting more welcoming to members of the public who are less familiar using signage and better seating arrangements.
“Without the signage and messaging, it might have looked like a group of cops just having a mass coffee break,” he said.
Some of the encounters during the event went precisely according to plan.
“One of the people who stopped in asked us a lot of questions related to traffic laws,” said Morgan. “I really like this, and this would be my hope for an event like this – that citizens who have questions about law enforcement can ask us anything they want, and bring up any concerns they might have.”
Although the nationally designated day is once annually, Morgan said he’d like to hold it in BV bi-annually.
“I think doing these at least twice a year would be cool,” he said. “We’d like to give some love to all our coffee shops, so we’ll try to plan a couple more in 2022 at different locations.”
Community policing can mean different things to different people. Here in BV, officers tend to reside in the community and the department’s relationship with the public can benefit greatly from meaningful interactions outside law enforcement scenarios.
“I’d hope an event like this humanizes the men and women behind the badge, and gives those who have a negative impression of law enforcement a chance to also join us in a non-threatening environment, over a cup of coffee, where we can discuss concerns and find some common ground,” said Morgan.