MCSO planning first Coffee with a Cop

Eight years ago, a police department in California unwittingly launched what would become an international movement aimed at reigniting the ties between the community members and the officers dedicated to their safety. This year's Coffee with a Cop event will see a new department's participation listed on the roster of thousands: the Marshall County Sheriff's Office.

On Oct. 2, National Coffee with a Cop day, deputies with the MCSO will be available at Parcell's Perk Coffee Shop in Draffenville from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. to have open dialogue and connect with the community over a cup of coffee.

MCSO Capt. Jason Lane said the purpose of the event is to open the door for interactions with local officers outside of crisis situations and provide the opportunity for questions and answers on both sides of the table.

"It's hard to get to know us while we're on duty because it's usually always business with us when we're dealing with people. This is more of a laid back, one-on-one kind of get to know each other meet-and-greet so they can put names with faces and it's not a bad call or a wreck," he said. "The business we're typically doing with people is usually not pleasant. This event was designed to get citizens and the officers that serve them connected. If they have questions about why we do things the way we do, we can explain it."

Lane said he plans to schedule at least three or four deputies to attend the entire scheduled event time and will have on-duty deputies floating in and out as the call volume allows.

Coffee with a Cop was launched with the Hawthorne Police Dept. in Hawthorne, California, in 2011 when officers were seeking ways to interact more successfully in positive situations with the citizens they served.

That movement took root nationwide and internationally with all 50 states and 15 countries participating in the movement, reporting more than 10,000 events worldwide since its inception and more than 70% of attendees reporting they feel better about their local police after the event.

Now, Coffee with a Cop is a registered non-profit organization which has an active website managed by current and retired officers from the Hawthorne Police Dept. According to that website, the history of the event is as follows:

"Community policing has long been considered a framework for establishing trust between the community and the police. However, over time, the character and composition of our nation's communities have changed due to shifting demographics, more commuters and the introduction of different communication methods such as websites and social media. The Hawthorne Police Dept. hit upon a simple plan to break through the barriers that have been built over the years--a cup of coffee.

"Coffee with a Cop events are now held in all 50 states and is one of the most successful community oriented policing programs across the country. The program has also expanded outside the Unites States to Canada, Europe, Australia, Africa and Latin America. The key to Coffee with a Cop's growing success is that it opens the door for interactions outside of the crisis situations that typically bring law enforcement officers and community members together."

More information about the Coffee with a Cop organization is available by visiting www.coffeewithacop.com.