DOVER — The Dover Police Department is filled to the brim with community involvement, and some of its more casual encounters with residents are obtained via its occasional Coffee With a Cop events.
While attendees enjoy breakfast, they can discuss any topic under the sun with city officers — be it their day-to-day jobs, Dover government or any concerns they might have.
Police Chief Thomas Johnson Jr. believes this creates a level of transparency the agency strives for.
“(The community is) entitled to know a little bit about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it because they’re supporting it (with tax dollars),” he said. “If you’re going to have an honorable existence, if you’re going to have legitimacy in your agency, in its role in your community, there has to be communication. There has to be conversation.”
Chief Johnson added that many officers feel there is a stigma against them because they are perceived as just faceless cops. But gatherings like these are working to change that image.
“I need people to understand that there’s a human being inside the uniform,” he said. “I need people to understand that police officers are absolutely approachable.”
Dover Cpl. Strovenscolv Larochelle, an Army veteran, agreed.
“People might see me with just a badge and a gun, and they don’t really know me. They don’t really know what I do. They might just see me as an officer,” he said.
This mind-set was also demonstrated during an in-depth conversation between citizen Bob Hartman and Master Cpl. Ryan Schmid during the most recent Coffee With a Cop, on Wednesday at Dover Hollywood Diner. They discussed a recent 911 call Mr. Hartman made and his discontent about the outcome.
“If you have a complaint about us, talk to us about it. Let us know why you’re here. Let us know what your complaint is,” said Cpl. Schmid. “We want to know what your issues are with us because, if we don’t know what we mess up, we can’t do better.”
While these breakfast gatherings have no set schedule, upcoming meeting will be announced on the police department’s Facebook page.