The Niagara County Sheriff's Office invites area residents to attend an unusual get-together next week. NCSO deputies and community members will come together in an informal, neutral space to discuss community issues, build relationships and drink coffee. Local residents are invited to stop by "Coffee with a Cop."
The event, which is sponsored by "A Hand Up Inc.," begins at 9 a.m. Thursday at Tim Hortons, 5816 S. Transit Road, Lockport. The first 25 residents attending will get a small coffee and donut compliments of "A Hand Up Inc."
Sheriff James Voutour said "Coffee with a Cop" provides a unique opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about how the sheriff's office works.
He said most of the contact law enforcement has with the public occurs during emergencies or emotional situations, which are not always the most effective times for relationship building. Some community members may feel officers are unapproachable on the street. "Coffee with a Cop" breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.
"We hope that community members will feel comfortable to ask questions, bring concerns, or simply get to know our deputies," Voutour said. "These interactions are the foundation of community partnerships."
"Coffee with a Cop" is a national initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Similar events are being held across the country, as police departments and sheriff's offices strive to make lasting connections with the communities they serve.
The program aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and community members one cup of coffee at a time.