September 28, 2020

Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Irving police department encourages dialogue

Photo: Assistant Police Chief Jeff Spivey and fellow officers were met with warmth and support from members of the community. /Photo by Nick Kammerer

Citizens often contact the police to respond to criminal incidents and emergency situations. During these calls-for-service, those involved are usually preoccupied and emotionally distressed.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, Irving police officers arrived at Starbucks Coffee on MacArthur Blvd for a completely different reason: to enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation with the citizens of Irving.

Saturday’s ‘Coffee with a Cop’ event, an ongoing community policing program, strives to formulate a positive relationship between police officers and the citizens they protect while in a relaxed, informal atmosphere.

“This is an opportunity for us to meet with the public in a setting where there is not a problem that’s going on or where tensions are high,” Irving Police Captain Darren Steele said. “Usually, when we talk to people on calls, they’ve either had a crime committed against them, or they’re not happy; so conversations aren’t quite as friendly or fun to have.

“Since we started at 9 o’clock, we’ve been talking to people the whole time. This is a good turnout. [Citizens] want to know what the crime is like around here, what are the issues that they need to look out for and what areas are safe and not safe,” he said.

Although Saturday’s event provided an opportunity for citizens to voice their concerns and ask questions, many of those in attendance arrived solely to show their support and thank the officers for their service. Some Irving residents wore “Police Lives Matter” t-shirts and other supportive apparel.

“A lot of people come out just to say, ‘Hi,’” Steele said. “They see the Coffee with a Cop flyer on social media, and they come out here to meet with us and see who the officers are that work in their area. The majority of [citizens] don’t have any issues or questions. They just come out here to visit with us, and the few that do may have a specific question about an issue with a neighbor or about an offense that occurred.

“It’s a win-win for the officers and the public, because we have the opportunity to speak in a nice, casual and open-ended environment. We appreciate the people that come out, and we’d like to encourage the [community] to come out and meet with us.”

Coffee with a Cop originated in Hawthorne, California in 2011 and quickly spread to municipalities and other police agencies nationwide. Saturday’s gathering was the Irving Police Department’s fourth Coffee with a Cop event this year, and additional gatherings are being planned for the upcoming year.

“I am supporting the police and the first responders in Irving,” Irving resident Elena Blake said. “I think it’s important that we get behind the Blue. I want more people to be aware these are the good guys. They’re here to protect us.”

Blake, President of the Irving Republican Women’s Club, is an avid promoter of Irving’s Coffee with a Cop event.

“If there is anything that the [citizens] want to know as far as police work, they should feel free to come to the police department and get their information,” Blake said. “I had a few things to ask about parking. They’re here to help me resolve any issues that I have in my neighborhood, my city and in my community. I want citizens, especially our children, not to be afraid and to come forward.”

In 2013, Irving was ranked the fifth safest city in the United States, proof that the Irving Police Department strives to improve the quality of life for members of the community. The department’s unwavering, relentless service to the citizens of Irving is evident in their passion for community policing and caretaking.

Residents are encouraged to visit the Irving Police Department’s Facebook page for information regarding upcoming events and activities. For more information about the department, visit www.irvingpd.org.