Coffee With a Cop is a national and actually worldwide program that was born in Hawthorne, Calif., in 2011 as the result of a brainstorming session. Members of the Hawthorne Police Department were looking for ways to interact more successfully with the citizens they served each day.
One of the answers they came up with — sit down in an everyday environment with residents of the town, enjoy a cup of coffee and visit.
Last week, on June 29, several members of the Nevada Police Department took part in their first-ever Coffee With a Cop event in Nevada. It took place for several hours of the morning in Nevada’s newest coffee shoppe, Farm Grounds, right on main street.
“We had people come through the store to get coffee, and we actually sat down and talked to a total of four people during the two-hour span,” said Nevada Police Sgt. Josh Cizmadia, who was the one to push starting the program in Nevada.
The goal for Nevada’s police officers and supervisors — which include Sgt. Cizmadia, Sgt. Tracy Schmidt and Public Safety Director Ric Martinez — is to move the event around, both in location and day of the week, and to hold Coffee With a Cop get-togethers at least once a month or every other month, depending on how busy the department is with its workload. It is also the expectation that at least one of the three supervisors will always be present with other officers at these events.
“We’re planning to do another one in July and to do it on a Saturday,” Cizmadia said. He said they are thinking the next one will maybe be at a local church. And from there, they foresee having future events at Casey’s on South B, McDonald’s … basically moving it around to public spots with places to sit, have coffee and visit.
Cizmadia said that the goal of Coffee With a Cop is to build community with the local police, while increasing transparency of the department. “If they (the residents) have questions about something that happened, or something that happened to them, they can ask and hopefully get answers,” he said. Obviously not everything a police department and officer does is able to be told. Because of policies and the sensitive job of handling cases, Cizmadia said that there are always going to be things the police can’t comment on. “But maybe we can help explain our role and the reasons why we can’t comment on certain things,” he said.
It’s certainly an opportunity for the department, also, to hear suggestions. “There’s a hundred ways to do this job (policing), and we often look at which way is the most efficient way and what can create the most positive outcome.” But he says, while they have to do certain things certain ways, they’d like to hear suggestions from the public, because some things can maybe be changed and still meet policy.
The biggest thing about Coffee With a Cop is that it allows an informal setting, where cops can get to know people and people can get to know cops. “Unfortunately, we deal with people mostly at the worst times in their lives. This is our opportunity to share our perspective,” he said, and it’s in a comfortable, nonthreatening environment.
Upcoming events will be advertised on the Nevada Police Department’s Facebook page, as well as through flyers and the local newspaper.