Bemidji Law Enforcement Chats With Community Members Over Coffee
It’s a simple gesture sharing a cup of Joe and a conversation with local law enforcement – one that officers say can make a huge difference.
“It lets people know that were part of the community we live in. Not only do we serve it as law enforcement officers, but we live in this community and we’re part of it, too, and we want to touch base with the people that live here,” said Bemidji Police Officer Tabitha Carrigan.
National Coffee With a Cop Day is a nationwide event where police officers worldwide have coffee with their community.
“It puts the officers in the community in an environment where there are no agendas, no speeches, just communication,” Carrigan said. “So, people can address their concerns with you, they can just have general conversations and just have a way to communicate with their law enforcement.”
It encourages community members to get to know their local police officers.
“It’s nice to interact with people on a face-to-face basis, where you’re not dealing with them when they’re going through some sort of crisis or dealing with something else,” said Dan Seaberg, a Detective Sergeant with the Bemidji Police Department.
The idea started in California back in 2011 and has since expanded throughout the United States. It lands on the first Wednesday in October every year. The event opens the door for dialogue and interaction outside of the professional work environment.
“It allows those people to see us as who we are and to know that we have other interests. We’re just not there enforcing laws and looking and try to get them in trouble,” Seaberg said. “It’s called humanizing the badge, we get out there and let them know that we’re not these robocops, we’re here to help them on a personal level also.”
The Bemidji Police Department has done other community engagement events in the past. It’s a chance to bring men and women in uniform together with their communities.
“We’ve done multiple different events such as this,” Carrigan said. “We’ve done Cookie With a Cop, Cone With a Cop, and Coffee With a Cop. And sometimes we see a lot of the same people like that just want to bring their children so that they can interact with police officers, or that just maybe have a question or concern and didn’t know how to address it prior to this.”
Officer Carrigan says that over the summer the police department was short staffed and there weren’t many community engagement events put on. But that will soon change once their full staffed. Detective Sergeant Seaberg says they’ve got new officers joining the police department, and community members should come out and get to know them on a personal level.
The Bemidji Police Department always posts future events on their Facebook page and encourage the community to join them.