Trust comes from knowing people, so building relationships is one way to build that trust. Taking people outside their normal element and putting them into regular interactions—such as meeting and talking over a cup of coffee or tea—can build relationships.
In 2011, the Hawthorne Police Department started Coffee with a Cop as way to have officers interact with people from the community in a low-stress environment. That same program has grown nationwide and is considered one of the most successful programs of its kind.
The key to the program is allowing people and police to meet and talk with each other in comfortable, non-adversarial situations—like during a traffic stop or during/after a crime. Oct. 4 (10-4 in police parlance essentially means “Okay” or “Affirmative”) has been designated as National Coffee with a Cop Day.
On Oct. 4, the Santa Clara Police Department held its fifth Coffee with a Cop event since Oct. 7, 2016. But the “with a Cop” name is a bit misleading because instead of it being one police officer, approximately nine members of the Santa Clara Police Department volunteered their time to represent the department at Peet’s Coffee and Tea in Rivermark Plaza in Santa Clara. Prior the event, officers were informed about it and given a chance volunteer.
Previous Coffee with a Cop days have been held at City Lights Espresso, Mission City Grill, Starbucks (on Railroad Avenue), Big Mug Coffee Roasting and Voyager Craft Coffee. From 8 to 9:30 a.m., Peet’s donated coffee to the officers and attendees and the Police Department donated Coffee with a Cop coffee mugs.
Topics of conversation ranged from the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas and possible things to do in the aftermath, to laws currently in place that aren’t always enforced (including the voluminous traffic codes), to complications with SCU students, to questions and stories about traffic stops.
The environment was friendly, and if it weren’t for the uniforms it would be hard to distinguish the officers from a normal crowd of people standing around, sipping coffee and talking.
Coffee with a Cop events are usually held every two months on a weekday morning. Can’t wait for the your next cop coffee date? There is a Chat with the Chief scheduled for Monday, Oct. 16 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Police Building—601 El Camino Real.
For more information on Coffee with a Cop, please visit the Police Department’s webpage: santaclaraca.gov/government/departments/police-department/community/coffee-with-a-cop