Coffee with a Cop: Police to have informal community meetings

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 17, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

There’s nothing like a good cup of coffee in the morning, and the Salisbury Police Department hopes to encourage good conversation over the hot brew with its new initiative, Coffee with a Cop.

Officers will sit down with residents in the places some are most often — a coffee shop, barber shop and beauty salon. The police department partnered with three barber/beauty shops and two coffee shops who will host the informal community meetings.

“We are not asking anyone to do anything different because we are coming to you,” said Police Capt. Melonie Thompson.

She added that oftentimes, residents can’t attend community meetings because they are working, and some older residents don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes after dark or speaking in public meetings.

She said the coffee with cops program isn’t a new idea, but has been done in Charlotte with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, in Australia, Canada, Africa, and Europe.

The idea to include barber shops and beauty salons was a collaborative effort among Thompson, Interim Chief Brian Stallings and Brian Hunter, a local barber shop owner.

Thompson said Hunter actually approached her over a month ago and she began researching the idea. She brainstormed some ideas with Stallings and the program will begin next month.

“I’ve been trying to find things to bridge the gap, something where people are naturally there,” Thompson said.

She said there are no agendas, just conversation. Residents can ask questions, voice concerns or just get to know an officer. She said this informal gathering is the basis on which to build trust.

Stallings said the idea is to improve relationships with the community.

After the January Community Conversations meeting, Thompson said, Kelly Taylor, owner of Majestic Creations hair salon, approached them about how she could play a role in future projects. Taylor’s Mooresville Road shop is the only hair salon currently on the roster to host a barber shops and cops meeting.

Stallings said the idea is simply a way for officers to get to know the community and the residents to get to know the different officers.

Residents will have the opportunity to sit down with different officers at the following locations:

• Koko Java, 329 N. Main St., first and third Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-10 a.m.

• Mean Mug, 1024 S. Fulton St., second and fourth Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-10 a.m.

• Majestic Creations, 109 Mooresville Road, first Thursday each month, 2 p.m.

• Man Made Barber & Shave, 108 W. Innes St., first Fridays, 1 p.m.

• B&B Expressions, 1010 W. Horah St., second Thursdays, 11 a.m.

• Addison’s, 1953 W. Jake Alexander Blvd., fourth Thursdays, 1 p.m.