The Newton Police Department (NPD) is expanding its current community outreach program, “Coffee with a Cop,” with a citizens police academy that is expected to be implemented within the coming months.
To be held on varying days once a week, the new program will offer residents the opportunity to learn about the role of the police and their responsibilities. Whether it be discussing domestic violence, elder affairs, or going on a ride along with the Traffic Bureau, the people of Newton will be given a more in-depth look at what the police do.
“We think that’s pretty important … [to] see where we’re coming from and get a better understanding and just have a better connection with the police department,” said Justin Lau, an officer with the NPD.
Other police departments in the past have enacted similar programs. PoliceOne.com, a website dedicated to police happenings and information, wrote an article outlining the positive effects these sorts of programs can have on the community, such as facilitating increased trust and transparency.
The NPD has been actively engaging with the residents of Newton’s 13 villages with its Coffee with a Cop program since its implementation in 2017. The program is usually held at the Chestnut Hill Mall, where Lau and one other officer hand out pizza and Starbucks coffee.
“That’s something we’d have limited reservations of seats for, you know, we can’t have 100 people doing,” Lau said. “We haven’t come down with a concrete number, but it would be open to the general public, yes.”
The setting provides residents with the chance to have relaxed conversations, covering anything from parking violations to concerns about their personal residences, Lau said. Rather than going to the station, Newton residents can talk to their police force as they would a neighbor.
“It’s an informal way for people to come in and talk with police,” Lau said. “That’s the biggest thing, we want to have more face-to-face time with the public.”
Featured Image by Keara Hanlon / Heights Staff