Next Saturday May 3rd, Fitchburg police officers will again be pouring free coffee to citizens as part of its Coffee with a Cop program. The Coffee with a Cop program, which began three years ago in California and has now taken off in over 175 cities nationwide aims to bring citizens and officers together in a neutral setting with no formal agenda. Fitchburg officers will be at Barriques, 5957 McKee Road, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to meet citizens, answer questions and listen to concerns.
According to Sgt. Edward Hartwick, the Fitchburg Police Department hosted two very successful Coffee with a Cop events last year and is planning on making the event a regular one. “I met lots of people who told me they would have never approached a police officer,” said Hartwick, “some said they didn’t want to bother us and others said they just did not feel comfortable.”
Sgt. Hartwick said the Department continues to implement new methods of communication, including a new, more user friendly website, but face to face communication remains irreplaceable. “Our goal is to be just as much a part of the community as someone’s next door neighbor. We are most successful when we build trusting relationships and that is hard to do on a computer or over the phone,” said Hartwick.
Fitchburg officers hope to answer questions, listen to concerns and learn about neighborhood issues they may not have otherwise known about. Most importantly though, the officers pouring coffee hope to interact with the public in a less formal manner. “People are surprised when they speak with us and find out we’re friendly and have a sense of humor,” said Hartwick, “it helps us break down barriers and relate.”