By James Grob, firstname.lastname@example.org
Several Charles City police officers converged at McDonald’s Wednesday morning, but no arrests were made.
Drinking too much coffee might not be a good idea, but it isn’t a crime.
The intense police presence was due to the department’s third installment of “Coffee With A Cop,” when members of the CCPD meet with members of the public for no other reason than to chat and get to know each other.
“It’s something for us to just touch base with people,” said Charles City Police Chief Hugh Anderson. “We show them that we’re just everyday people, too.”
Anderson said he thought the “Coffee With A Cop” sessions were the brainchild of Officer Duane Ollindick.
“Duane’s our community service officer, and I think he just kind of thought it up one day,” Anderson said. “He and the manager at Hy-Vee talked about it at one time, and it just sort of came to fruition, and we got a pretty good group.”
Anderson said that first event had good numbers of citizens coming and going, and that it was a positive experience.
“There were a lot of younger people — it was in the summer so they didn’t have school going on — and some people brought their kids with them,” he said. “We had a number of people come down that we wouldn’t have met otherwise, and that turned out really well.”
It turned out so well that they decided to do it again — the next time at Aroma’s last month, and then again at McDonald’s on Wednesday.
The public asked the officers questions about a wide variety of things, some of them directly related to police business and others just general conversations.
“We’ve had questions and comments about everything, from Jordy the dog to why McQuillen Place isn’t done,” Anderson said. “Some stuff that doesn’t really involve us as officers, but I think sometimes it’s actually good for people to just talk to us and let us know what’s on their minds. A lot of times we don’t get the chance to talk one-on-one with people.”
Anderson said that the familiarity with the public can help the police do their jobs.
“It makes us more personable and easy to talk to, so then if something happens they aren’t afraid to approach us,” he said.
Another way the Police Department connects with the citizens has been the police academy, which just held its third class this week.
The academy is a free course, held at the Charles City NIACC center every Tuesday evening for 10 weeks. The course ends in late November. Topics covered include learning about criminal investigations, firearms, use of force, defensive tactics, patrol, communications, equipment used by officers and many other subjects relating to the Police Department and law enforcement.
Anderson said that 26 people are now registered for the class, and that 2-3 people have been added in each of the first three weeks.
“It’s eye-opening for the public, because I think a lot of them don’t realize all that we do,” said Anderson. “It’s good to change people’s perceptions of all the services that we offer, because it’s so diverse.”
In the most recent class, officers went through every step of a robbery investigation — from getting a call, all the way to the courthouse at the end.
“It’s good for them to see how many hundreds of man-hours can go into a case,” Anderson said. “People might see an article in the paper about the end of a case, and they might see in the daily record the beginning of the case, but they never see everything that goes on in between. It’s good to have people follow it all the way through.”