Coffee With A Cop gives Aiken community a chance to build relationship with officers

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020
News 12 This Morning

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Officers with the city of Aiken Public Safety Department put down their badges and picked up the coffee Wednesday as part of the Coffee With a Cop program. The goal is to build trust between law enforcement and the community it serves.

It was a morning filled with coffee, donuts, and conversation.

"I like to be involved in events that have to do with the community. Particularly positive events," said Aiken resident Pat Kirk.

Coffee With a Cop is a chance for officers to listen to the community face-to-face, in a non-emergent situation. Officer Stephanie Barbee was one of those in attendance Wednesday.

"You have to connect with the community. If you don't you're kind of failing your community in a way. You have to have that open door with them," Officer Barbee said.

Officer Barbee says people often come to voice concerns about issues in the community that don't rise to the level of calling 911.

"A lot of times we hear of problems, you know, maybe issues they're having with their neighbors that we don't hear about," she said.

But Pat Kirk says she just comes to learn.

"I do have a question about maybe the homeless situation in Aiken if there is one. And I was going to ask the policemen how they deal with it," Kirk said.

Officer Barbee says she hopes when people leave, they see cops as people just like them.

"It humanizes us a little bit. It lets them know that they can approach us and not just think of us as someone that they read on the news or read about bad things."

Officials say lack of trust between law enforcement and civilians is a nationwide problem. This program is an attempt to bridge that gap.

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