Join a cop for cof­fee

Stratford Press - - News - By ILONA HANNE

Cof­fee with a cop is com­ing to Strat­ford next month, with plans for it to be­come a reg­u­lar event.

Se­nior con­sta­ble Jono Er­wood says he and his col­league, act­ing sergeant Si­mon Howard, hope the com­mu­nity will take the op­por­tu­nity to join them for a chat and a cuppa.

“The cof­fee with a cop ini­tia­tive has been re­ally pop­u­lar in Amer­ica and other coun­tries, and it’s some­thing we think will work here as well.”

Si­mon says the idea is to give peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to have a chat with a lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cer in an in­for­mal set­ting.

“Peo­ple might have a ques­tion about polic­ing, or want to talk about an is­sue which is con­cern­ing them, but they aren’t comfy com­ing into the po­lice sta­tion and ask­ing us. Cof­fee with a cop will give them the chance to have that con­ver­sa­tion in a more re­laxed en­vi­ron­ment.”

Jono says the talks will be agenda-less.

“We aren’t com­ing in with pre­con­ceived ideas of what peo­ple will want to talk about. We are go­ing to be lis­ten­ing, try­ing to an­swer any ques­tions and help­ing peo­ple with any spe­cific con­cerns by ex­plain­ing what they can do about them.”

Si­mon says while they will di­rect peo­ple to the po­lice sta­tion to re­port a spe­cific crime, he and Jono hope they will be able to help peo­ple with more gen­eral en­quiries as well as get­ting in­for­ma­tion on what peo­ple are con­cerned about.

“It might be that we hear from lots of peo­ple about sim­i­lar con­cerns, maybe a worry about speed­ing cars or ar­eas where they feel un­safe when walk­ing. This will help us tar­get our po­lice work and iden­tify ar­eas of con­cern in the com­mu­nity which we can try to ad­dress.”

It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to be able to trust their lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers and have good re­la­tion­ships with them, Jono says.

“Meet­ing up for a cof­fee is a great way to build re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple, and we hope peo­ple will see real ben­e­fit from this project.”

As the chats are in­for­mal, they won’t be record­ing names or tak­ing notes, but rather will try to sum­marise the con­cerns they hear about and deal with them in a gen­eral way.

“We then plan to give the com­mu­nity feed­back through the Strat­ford Press, with a col­umn once a month an­swer­ing some of the ques­tions we have been asked.”

Each cof­fee with a cop ses­sion will be ad­ver­tised in the Strat­ford Press in ad­vance and peo­ple who can’t at­tend are also wel­come to email the ed­i­tor with any gen­eral ques­tions or con­cerns they ad­dressed.

Jono and Si­mon are ask­ing lo­cal busi­nesses to get in­volved by spon­sor­ing the cost of some cof­fees for each ses­sion.

“We’d love to hear from any cafes who would like to host us for this, as well as other busi­nesses who would like to get in­volved, “says Si­mon. “Ev­ery­one in the com­mu­nity will ben­e­fit from this in some way, as an in­creased con­nec­tion be­tween po­lice and the com­mu­nity we serve is guar­an­teed to have a pos­i­tive im­pact on us all.”

Si­mon Howard and Jono Er­wood are invit­ing peo­ple to en­joy “cof­fee with a cop”.

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