"Coffee With a Cop" gives residents a chance to talk with officers

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COLUMBIA – Columbia residents will have the chance to have a cup of coffee with officers from the Columbia Police Department at The Grind Coffee House on Wednesday.

 “Coffee with a Cop” allows residents to connect personally with the officers patrolling the areas they live in from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The meetings are once a month at a different location so officers can get to know the entire community.

 “It’s a perfect opportunity for us to have the community policing feel where you can come in as a citizen and have an open forum with a police officer. You can ask any questions that you have or talk about concerns you have in your neighborhood,” Bryana Larimer, the Columbia Police Department Public Information Officer, said.

 Larimer said “Coffee with a Cop” is a national effort, but the Columbia Police Department places a special importance on building relationships with the community.

She said people talk about everything from personal stories to concerns about burglaries and how to prevent them. 

 “It gives an open forum and relationship. Trust is the main component of a relationship; it’s the foundation. I think you can really build trust just sitting down face-to-face with someone over a cup of coffee,” Larimer said.

The owner of The Grind Coffee House, Aucky El-Tayash, volunteered to host the event.

 “Law enforcement should be in touch with their community and the community should be in touch with their law enforcement. I think this is a good opportunity for that to happen,” El-Tayash said.

"I work the night shift and the same police officers always stop by while they are on their night shifts. They come in and are all so friendly. I hope the same crew shows up tomorrow," Kora Freeman, a barista at The Grind Coffee House said. 

 Larimer said the department has a goal to meet with as many people as possible, and for citizens to know who their officers are.

 “When you build that type of relationship, you are able to be more proactive against fighting crime together. That partnership is critical in not only being proactive, but solving crime in your area,” Larimer said.

Larimer said the department is looking for suggestions for next month’s meeting location. Contact the Columbia Police Department to give input for “Coffee With a Cop.”