Coffee with a CopBENNINGTON - With the hope of better engaging with the community, the Bennington County Sheriff's Department has announced a new program that will let you have "Coffee with a Cop."
Sheriff Chad Schmidt said that the push to bring the program to Bennington was led by Detective Sergeant Lloyd Dean.
"It's a community relations phenomenon that is sweeping the nation," said Dean, "where the department will go into a local coffee shop, so to speak, and interact with the community. The premise is very simple. There is no agenda, just building relationships, one coffee at a time."
The inaugural event for the Sheriff's Department will take place at Stewart's on Route 7A in Arlington on Tuesday Dec. 6, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Schmidt and Dean will be in attendance, along with other members of the department, Lieutenant Thomas McCoy of the Vermont State Police, and a representative from the district attorney's office. Coffee will be provided.
Going forward, the department hopes to host between four and six Coffee with a Cop events a year, with the location moving throughout the county. "Our goal is to reach every town in the county, especially those we have a contract with," said Dean.
"We hope that community members will feel comfortable to ask questions, bring concerns, or simply get to know our officers," said Schmidt, "These interactions are the foundation of community partnerships."
Dean said he recently spoke with departments in Saratoga Springs and Nashua, N.H. that have adopted the program, and both said it was a great success.
"What's nice is that it removes the typical barriers," said Dean, "I think this is going to be a good opportunity for us to communicate with the public." He said that he didn't expect all the conversations to be positive. "Sometimes, a citizen or resident has a problem with a particular deputy, on how they interacted with them at a motor vehicle stop or a noise complaint," he said, "This is the opportunity, they can talk to that deputy directly, rather than going through the chain of command. Those are the barriers we're trying to break down."
Coffee with a Cop is a national program that started in Hawthorne, California in 2011. Now, the program is being utilized in all 50 states, as well as in parts of Canada, Europe, Australia, and Africa. The program is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
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