By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Ninety residents — many concerned about speeding in residential areas — came to the first Coffee with a Cop program at Jack’s Wednesday morning.
CWC allows citizens and police officers to meet and discuss various issues. Officers in attendance felt the meeting helped bridge the gap between the department and the community with newfound relationships. Among the attendees was Cullman County Coroner Steve Rogers.
“These guys are here to build strong relationships in the community, not just arrest the bad people,” Rogers said. “They want to befriend the citizens.”
The program saw about 90 people in Jack’s on Main Avenue in Cullman for an informal meeting with Cullman city police officials between 7-9 a.m. Seven officers with the department attended to discuss community issues, and meet the residents. The event coordinators were officers Matt Schlosser and Adam Clark.
“The majority of the contacts that we make are while dealing with emergencies or emotional situations like traffic stops that could lead to citations or even arrests, and by having these informal meetings like this, a neutral space breaks down barriers and allows us to communicate one-on-one and I think that helps,” Schlosser said. “If someone gets arrested, they often perceive us as the bad guy, and that’s not who we are. I think overall today, it went very well.”
Schlosser said the issues that were brought up primarily dealt with speeders in residential areas, otherwise the officers were simply building relationships with attendees. Police Chief Kenny Culpepper felt they had a great turnout.
“Adam and Matt did a great job putting this together and they plan to do it again and maybe swap locations for the next one,” Culpepper said.
One of the seven officers on site was Chris Nichols, who said what is important to the city is important to the police department.
“I think it went well trying to build relationships with the community. We want people to feel comfortable coming to talk with us, because a lot of people aren’t,” Nichols said. “We want to know what their concerns are. If it’s important to them, it is also important to us. I think it was successful.”
Resident Ed Gardener said he has been coming to Jack’s seven days a week before he knew about the Coffee with a Cop program, but would encourage others to come to future meetings.
“They’re a bunch of good guys, easy to talk to and we will come back to another one,” Gardener said.
Clark and Schlosser agreed they hope to advertise the next event more and also have each informal meeting at other locations.
To find out more about Coffee and a Cop visit CoffeewithaCop.com. Online surveys are also available for attendees.
For more information, or to host an event, contact officers Schlosser or Clark at 256-734-1434.
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.