In my opinion for too long there has been a complete total separation and breakdown between police officers in the City of Minneapolis and the residents of Minneapolis. They are in two completely different silos, with the two parties rarely interacting with each other and generally only in an emergency.
My innovative “Coffee with a Cop” Program turns this problematic separation on its head and creates a new paradigm for every day interactions between the police and the residents of Minneapolis. The program revolves around the concept that every Wednesday Afternoon, in the City of Minneapolis, select coffee shops will run a pilot program, involving residents having a quick ten minute cup of coffee with a police officer.
This concept is very easy to implement and both sides will certainly benefit. Basically the City of Minneapolis would agree to fund a free cup of coffee for anyone who wants to sit down across a coffee table from a Minneapolis Police Officer and ask them questions? This is a chance for people to engage a police officer in a non-threatening environment. It gives the police the chance to get to know some of the every day residents in the city they are responsible for policing.
In addition to opening new lines of communication this program could help to reduce crime in several ways. First, if there is a better dialogue between people in their neighborhood and law enforcement, people are more likely to call the police should there be a crime in progress. Secondly, with more of a dialogue between residents and the cop on the beat, there is less likely to be misunderstandings between the two when they are interacting together. Third, if the police and residents feel more comfortable around each other it creates an environment that reduces the risk of communications getting shutdown in high stress emergency situations, especially where communication can be the difference between life and death.
Without a doubt this pilot program is not going to solve all the complex problems between the Minneapolis Police Department and the residents of Minneapolis. However, it can be one more piece in solving the puzzle of how we can improve our police departments effectiveness in a variety of different situations in Minneapolis.
There are critics who will say this type of program is idealistic, pollyannish and too simplistic. People will argue that the problems between our citizens and police run much too deep for this program to help at all. The idea that simply having a cup of coffee with a police officer is not going to solve one problem with policing in our city. To those critics – I say communication between countries is what prevents wars and it is what creates lasting peace between nations. Let’s try this creative pilot program and get the police and the public communicating. Police talking to residents. Residents talking to police. There is nothing bad that could come from such an innovative program and the opportunity that it could create something worthwhile is certainly worth the price of a cup of coffee!