‘Coffee with a Cop’ gets national attentionA program linking cops and community members through a cup of coffee has landed Superior in the national spotlight.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A program linking cops and community members through a cup of coffee has landed Superior in the national spotlight.
Earlier this month, Superior Community Policing Officer Bonnie Beste spoke about “Coffee with a Cop” at a national Community Oriented Policing Conference in Washington D.C. She was one of three officers chosen from throughout the nation to head a panel about the program. The talk put Superior on the national map for community policing.
“I felt honored and important to be able to be talking about ‘Coffee with a Cop’ and community policing and what we’re doing here in Superior and in conjunction with other places across the whole country,” Beste said. “How the three of us from across the country have come together to make sure we can move this forward, how we believe in it, the good things we’ve heard from other people.”
They took their message to the D.C. movers and shakers the same way they brought it to their own citizens — through “Coffee with a Cop.”
“We stood up there, we shook hands, we were interactive with them,” Beste said. “We made sure they could ask questions about what was going on.”
Their efforts netted a national grant for “Coffee with a Cop” to be implemented in other departments throughout the country. That may lead to more travel for Beste, who could be tapped to help other law enforcement agencies create their own programs. Her work could also help the department apply for more grants in the future.
Beste stepped into the role of community policing officer a year and a half ago. Since then, she has held community meetings, worked with citizens and businesses, supported National Night Out events, manned the department’s Facebook site and tackled chronic nuisance issues. During one community meeting, Dave Miller of Northwest Outlet offered to sponsor “coffee with Bonnie” to open up the lines of communication between the business community and the police department. Shortly after that, Beste found an article in a community policing publication on “Coffee with a Cop” by Sgt. Chris Cognac of the Hawthorne, Calif., Police Department. She asked Police Chief Charles LaGesse if she could start a similar program in Superior. He gave her the green light.
“She ran with it,” LaGesse said.
The first “Coffee with a Cop” took place in February. To date, four have been held. The fifth runs 7-9 a.m. Tuesday at McDonald’s Restaurant, 2026 Tower Ave.
“This is a time to get questions answered, bring up concerns and meet some of your local officers,” Beste said. There’s no formal agenda. The event is relaxed, and free coffee is available. “If you only have a couple extra minutes during your morning commute you can stop in and open the lines of communication with your police officers.”
It’s a chance for people to bring up issues they don’t feel warrant a 911 call.
“Something that may seem a smaller issue to us, that’s their big issue,” Beste said. The top concern she’s heard during these coffee sessions is pedestrian safety in crosswalks.
“And that’s part of improving the quality of life, which is what we want to do here through the department,” Beste said.
Another of the officer’s big successes was last week’s National Night Out. With her encouragement, the number of events in Superior tripled — from three last year to 10 this year. Officers visited each event, Beste said, and neighbors got out of the house and met each other.
“When good citizens are out, crime stays away,” she said.
The next big item on Beste’s agenda is setting up Citizen Watch groups throughout the city. She plans to kick the program off with meetings for participants in September. Anyone interested in being part of their neighborhood’s watch group can contact Beste at (715) 395-7401 or email@example.com.
She gave a lot of credit to the chief and command staff for believing in outreach to citizens through “Coffee with a Cop” and other community policing efforts.
“With the progressive nature right now of our police department and moving this forward we can really make an impact for our citizens,” she said.