POUGHKEEPSIE – Officers from several area police departments sat down residents over cups of coffee this week to continue an open dialogue.
City of Poughkeepsie police were at a number of local establishments on Wednesday, participating in the national Coffee with a Cop event.
Police Officer Mike Braren noted the event takes place nationally on the first Wednesday in October. “It is a way for the public and members of the police department to sit down, put politics aside, and get to know one another on a more personal level,” said the officer assigned to the Community Policing division.
Braren also pointed out that often, the community only gets to deal with police officers during a stressful event. “This is a more relaxed, stress-free setting which allows for better communication between the officers and the public.”
Mayor Robert Rolison called Coffee with a Cop “a great informal way to sit down and have a conversation and develop a relationship with our officers.”
Joash Ward, the Democratic candidate did not respond when asked if he would be attending any of Wednesday’s sessions but pointed to his website’s public safety plan. Ward’s map for public safety says, in part, “Because 90 percent of our police force lives outside of the city, I believe officers need to spend more time in our neighborhoods out of uniform.” On achieving that goal, Ward said, “I will initiate an annual minimum of 40 hours of plainclothes community engagement for each officer on the force.” Rolison’s opponent maintains his plan “will give officers a chance to talk with local business owners to help them address public safety concerns and meet with families in their homes to offer advice on security and neighborhood patrols.”
Officer Braren helped with the logistics of getting officers at five different locations on Wednesday morning, followed by an evening session at the Palace Diner. Police Chief Tom Pape called the sessions “another way for the officers to interact with the community in a positive, relaxed setting.” The chief said they have had “some great conversations in the past ones that we have participated in.”
Braren sent his colleagues, Officers Shawn O’Keefe and Tom Palinkas to the Ugly Mug on Market Street for a morning session. The officers engaged in conversations with the shop’s owner, Ori Brachfield, as well as many county employees that stopped in for their morning coffee.
Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian Anderson stopped in before heading to a meeting and thanked the officers for their efforts in making the city a safer place than it was years ago.
State Senator Susan Serino, who dropped in for a cup of java, considers the Coffee with a Cop program a great addition to the city’s community policing efforts. “People need to realize that these officers could very well be our fathers, mothers, sons, or daughters and they are putting their lives on the line for our community and protecting us. Being able to chat with the officers in a non-stressful setting is a great opportunity for people to learn about the police and develop a better understanding of the great work they do.”
Ugly Mug patron Kevin May said the event is a great idea and said the efforts of the officers are really noticeable. He said he has been coming to Poughkeepsie for work every day for more than a decade and declared that he feels much safer now and the police are much more visible than they were years ago.