Coffee with a Cop

coffee with a cop

Walking into a room full of policeman can seemingly be a stressful event. At Edmond’s monthly “Coffee with a Cop” sessions, however, it’s an opportunity for the public to put names and faces to the officers who wear the badge and make our community a safe place to live, work, and visit.

Hosted by the Edmond Police Department, Coffee with a Cop meets on the second Tuesday of every month from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Locations vary and are announced in advance on the Department’s Facebook page. A group of eight to ten morning shift patrolman, very often accompanied by Edmond Chief of Police, JD Younger, volunteer to start their shift meeting the public over coffee and snacks. Sessions are informal, conversations are easy, the atmosphere relaxed and casual. At 7:30, everyone just wants to enjoy some good, strong coffee together.

Potential police academy recruits attend and sip their morning Joe, asking officers what typical days on the job are like, the physical standards needed to pass the academy, and educational requirements. As Edmond has grown, so have the requirements to patrol ever larger areas, and with it, the need to sufficiently sustain the force. Says Major Tim Barnthouse, Commander of the Patrol Division, “The department is in the process of hiring up to fourteen new recruits and Coffee with a Cop is a great way to meet future officers.”

For others it’s a chance to nosh a bagel with a patrolman and learn what it takes to provide an effective police service. Edmond PD offers many programs to help build strong community partnerships. The Citizen’s Police Academy is a free annual, 13-week course offered to residents, in addition to ride-alongs, and personal safety education classes.

University of Central Oklahoma patrolmen also participate. Sergeant Austin Bolding of UCO Police Services ended his night shift tour drinking coffee with the public, “to help get the word out of how the two police departments share jurisdiction and assist each other responding to emergencies.” UCO officers often coordinate investigations and training with Edmond PD, even sharing a radio network to enhance communication between agencies.

Edmond’s Coffee with a Cop program began in June 2017 and is part of a larger nationwide effort that began in 2011. According to CWAC’s website, it’s to “bring police officers and the community members they serve together–over coffee–to discuss issues and learn more about each other…one cup of coffee at a time.” National Coffee with a Cop Day is the first Wednesday of October annually.

Edmond’s program has continued to grow, with more community participants attending each month. Hosting coffee shops have ranged from Ellis Island and Cafe Evoke downtown, to Panera Bread at 15th  & Bryant, and Perk Place on West 33rd.

As the session ends, participants smile, shake hands with the officers, and walk to their cars going back to jobs or homes, all the while watching the patrolman prepare for their day’s work in uniforms wrapped over ballistic vests.

Jenny Wagnon, the department’s Public Information Specialist says it best. “For many, the only time they’re up close with a patrolman is when they see the flashing red and blue lights in the rear view mirror. Coffee with a Cop gives the public a chance to see that up close, we’re just like them, raising families, and doing our jobs in and for the community.”

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