Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott and other police officers should be quite visible – and perhaps over caffeinated – at five Coffee with a Cop meetings to be held Wednesday, Oct. 3.
Oct. 3 is national Coffee with a Cop day, which was established after police in Hawthorne, California, in 2011, sat down with citizens in public coffee shops to answer questions and improve community policing.
The cop coffee klatches were successful and were copied by other police departments. Now, Coffee with a Cop is a national organization that provides training to police departments on how to interact casually with the citizens they serve.
The Greensboro Police Department began holding its own monthly Coffee with a Cop events in 2015 but found that once a month was a little more than the market would bear. Starting this year, the Police Department will hold the sitdowns only on the nationally scheduled day and when invited by businesses, according to Jenny Caviness, manager of the Police Department’s Office of Community Engagement.
The monthly Greensboro events were held by the city’s four police districts. This year’s events are being held by the department but will feature police officers of all ranks from the districts.
Caviness said, “The chief has even showed up for a few, and I know he will participate in some of the events tomorrow.”
The national Coffee with a Cop organization gives police guidance for organized events, but Greensboro citizens attending this year will find more casual sessions marked only by signs identifying them.
Caviness said the most common question officers get asked at the coffee event is, “When should I call the police.” She said citizens are often unsure what constitutes suspicious behavior or when to report it.
“We say, ‘always,’” she said. “We’d rather you call us and not need us than need us and not call us.”
Other questions Greensboro police officers get include how much crime there is in a particular area, or why police do or don’t patrol an area.
“It’s really just questions and answers,” Caviness said. “We don’t provide any content.”
The Oct. 3 Coffee with a Cop events will be held from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m at McDonald’s at 2620 Battleground Ave. and at Starbucks at 3711 Elmsley St. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Cheesecakes by Alexat 315 S. Elm St. and Vidapour Tea at 412 State St. Another session will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Denny’s Restaurant at 3702 Gate City Blvd.
Caviness said business requests to host a Coffee with a Cop are more common than people might assume. “They like the presence of police,” she said. “They like the camaraderie.”