ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It started in Albuquerque with Coffee with a Cop and now everyone from city councilors to local contractors are trying it, hoping to improve community relations.
“This proliferation of coffee with somebody is just an interesting phenomenon,” said UNM Sociology Professor Richard Wood.
“A lot of institutions police departments, politicians, government; are trying to find ways to reach out and build a little trust, build a little legitimacy and maybe these ‘Coffee with…’ events are a way to do that,” Wood said.
He said that right now there is a deep distrust of institutions and authorities in American life, but coffee is a common denominator.
Since its launch five years ago in Hawthorne, California, Coffee with a Cop has expanded to all 50 states.
The Albuquerque Police Department started about two and a half years ago when a Department of Justice investigation stressed the importance of community policing.
There aren’t scientific studies, but APD considers it a success.
“We went from the very first one that had maybe 30 kind of angry people to now 500 people who are just inquisitive and wanting to understand,” said Celina Espinoza, APD’s Communications and Community Outreach director.
However, Coffee with a Contractor last week had more than just coffee brewing.
“I want everybody to hear. I don’t want no one-on-ones so they can shut us up,” one woman shouted in protest.
The City said the call for a public meeting to hear everyone’s questions and answers came from a handful of the 45 guests, and said those events are just part of the public outreach plan for ART.
“We are doing everything we can to give people information,” Joanie Griffin, an ART spokesperson said at the first event.
Coffee with a Contractor is scheduled to continue on the first Thursday of every month.
The growth of Coffee with a Cop has even led to a national Coffee with a Cop Day, encouraging all police agencies to host an event on October 7th.