Coffee with a Cop!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 3:30pm

Coffee with a Cop

Building Trust with the Community “One Cup at a Time”

In collaboration with the Renton Chamber of Commerce and the City of Renton Police Department, Starbucks is hosting a series of Coffee with a Cop events in our Renton, WA stores. These rotating weekly gatherings provide an opportunity for the community to engage their local law enforcement officers in a positive manner, creating an ideal forum to open up dialog around the support and involvement the police department offers. Community members are able to bring issues of concern directly to the table, ask questions about policies and procedures, or just take pictures with a local hero. This has proven to be a great way for the community to have a relaxed, informal one-on-one conversation over a cup of Starbucks coffee.

This program launched three weeks ago with enthusiastic support by the Renton Police department, represented by the Chief of Police, Deputy Chief of Police, Division Commanders, Detectives, Patrol Officers, Community Programs Coordinator, and the Communications Specialist. I have been impressed by their passion and desire to share what they do and the intentions behind their actions. Their goal is to continue to bridge the gaps between the community in which they serve and protect.

I have been personally inspired by several of the interactions I was a part of. At our first event held at Sunset Drive Thru, a couple approached the table representing the local hearing loss group with specific concerns as to how to effectively communicate with emergency services and self-identify their disability to law enforcement if approached. They were able to collaboratively identify actions that could be taken such as posting a medical history card for emergency services to refer to. The couple was also connected with the Renton Police Department Community Programs Coordinator, who offered to address their group at a future meeting to continue to problem solve.

The following week at the 4th & Union gathering, a disabled Vietnam veteran expressed his gratitude for local law enforcement to the Deputy Chief, a retired Army veteran. Having both served in the military, they connected on the value of service. During the event at 7th & Rainier Drive Thru, a customer started a discussion with the Chief and Deputy Chief around ideas for how the police could bridge the gap with the African American community in his Skyline neighborhood. These are some examples of the conversations happening as a result of this program. The police officers I have spoken with have been excited about the opportunity to share their story, educating and potentially breaking down community misperceptions.

The Chamber of Commerce publicized this information with the Renton community, businesses and neighborhood associations. While the intent was to schedule six weekly events Monday from 10a-12p, positive feedback has spawn the goal to make this a recurring event at varying times and days of the week to maximize community exposure.