Coffee With A Cop: A Facilitator of Transparency
In a time when the image of the police officer is a tarnished one, transparency is important. A foundation of transparency is community engagement. Law Enforcement Officer Mike Eeten, in the capacity as a public information officer for Tazewell County’s largest agency in its size of manpower saw a need to improve transparency. Coffee was a part of that answer.
“Years ago, police officers were involved in civic groups, church events, or community events. Many young officers do not have the time as they work odd shifts, and must manage time with their families and their kids’ school events.” Mike Eeten said. Mike saw the opportunity with the coffee with a cop concept. Coffee With A Cop has been around since 2011 and it was started by police officers in California. The founders saw this as a way to build trust and communicate better with those they serve.
These events made an impact. Officers come to the event to build trust, get coffee, and improve their relationships with the public they serve. Coffee With A Cop is held once a quarter and it has been a great development in increased understanding of the area that Mike’s agency serves.
Mike had pleasant news regarding the impact of these programs. “We have had conversations about certain issues that we were unaware of that the citizens brought to our attention. We were able to address those issues through extra patrols in those areas.”
Locally, the Coffee With A Cop program provides engagement with the community by facilitating two way communication. The public gets to know the officers that serve them. The officers get to know the public they serve. And with this trust and transparency are built. People come to voice their concerns and meet their officers and a great working relationship is built out of mutual respect and trust.
Transparency is necessary in order for the public to trust their police and for the police to be able to effectively serve their public. Transparency is not just a political buzzword it is a necessary requirement to improve public safety and it is also necessary for a public to have trust in its police.
Mike Eeten is running for the office of Sheriff out of a desire to make the Sheriff’s Office a 21st Century Law Enforcement agency built on unity, transparency, and leadership. Transparency is a pillar of effective organizational leadership. Mike Eeten has the experience as a small business owner, pastor, and community organizational leadership to enhance and improve the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office.
By Brandon C. Hovey