By LORRAINE U. MARTINELLE
Dudley Police Chief Steven Wojnar and School Resource Officer Phil Megas held their 2nd annual Coffee with a Cop session Oct. 3 at Nichols College’s Nicon Plaza, in front of Davis Hall. Along with conversation, they brought with them coffee and Munchkins, courtesy of Dunkin’.
Coffee with a Cop brings police officers and the community members they serve together–over coffee–to discuss issues and learn more about each other. It was launched in 2011 in Hawthorne, Calif., when officers from the Hawthorne Police Department were looking for ways to interact more successfully with the citizens they served each day.
Chief Wojnar said today that he has noticed via his two Coffee with a Cop sessions that Nichols students, faculty, and staff have many public safety-related questions and seem to enjoy the conversation with police officers.
“People do not routinely get a chance to have a one-on-one, casual conversation with a police officer in a relaxed setting,” said Chief Wojnar. “So when the public gets this opportunity, it allows them to be comfortable and share what’s on their mind.”
Chief Wojnar said he enjoys holding Coffee with a Cop on the Nichols campus. And, in addition to Nichols campus community members attending, Dudley residents also stopped by.
“When I started this last year in the town of Dudley, I had to think of a place where there would be people and the opportunity to meet,” he explained. “Also, given the social climate of today, what’s better than interacting with college students to hear what’s on their mind?”
Coffee with a Cop events are now held in all 50 states and is one of the most successful community oriented policing programs across the country. The program has also expanded to outside the Unites States to Canada, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Latin America. The key to Coffee with a Cop’s growing success is that it opens the door for interactions outside of the crisis situations that typically bring law enforcement officers and community members together.
“This is always fun and informative for us as police officers, and I hope it was as well for those who stopped by,” said Chief Wojnar, an adjunct faculty member at Nichols.
Lorraine U. Martinelle is Nichols College’s director of public relations and social media.