Orangeburg officers meet with public over coffee

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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - An Orangeburg woman wanted to know how she can get police to patrol her neighborhood.

The answer given during Orangeburg’s first Coffee with a Cop meeting is to call the law enforcement agency that covers your neighborhood.

“That is actually the goal of Coffee with a Cop, to offer communication between the public and this agency,” Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Chief Wendell Davis said.

The Coffee with a Cop meeting hosted by the department is designed to bring together three Cs: community, cops, and, of course, a cup of coffee or two.

The face-to-face sit-down was held recently at the John C. Calhoun Drive McDonald’s, where about 25 officers were available to discuss community concerns.

It was a casual atmosphere. For most. Some said before the meeting that the coffee sit-down was a ploy to serve warrants. Police said that wasn’t the case. No one was arrested.

You didn’t have to actually sit down with an officer. Some received their counter order and asked a quick question on their way out. But if you had time, you could sit down with officers for the entire two hours of the event.

Questions about patrols and case progression were brought up by residents. Cpl. Mitch Jackson said many times residents aren’t sure what to do, for example, if they are victims of crime or want more police presence around their property.

“The easiest thing to do is call and ask,” he said.

Some folks did turn around at the door at the sight of so many officers. But that was only a few, and most others joined in.

Peter Lee of Orangeburg said he’d read about the Coffee with a Cop initiative. He likes the idea of partnering with law enforcement to address community issues. Residents live in it, police protect it, so Lee feels residents should do their part to help.

“We should support them like they support us,” he said.

Orangeburg resident William Johnson said the idea of sitting down with an officer is a positive step toward building relationships. Many times the public perception of law enforcement is negative because of a traffic stop or other contact with police.

But the Coffee program shows the community that police are here to listen to what concerns the community most, Johnson said.

“It lets the community know the public safety officers are attainable,” he said. “All you have to do is reach out.”

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