Police and Law Enforcement News
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:56 a.m.
Earlier this month an
article appeared in a local
Cape May and Atlantic County newspaper about a program launched by the
Middle Township Police Department. It's unfortunate that it didn't get
picked up statewide for everyone to see.
The piece was about a
community relations effort launched in 2011 called "Cops and Coffee."
Simply, every six
weeks or so department personnel appear at a preannounced local
restaurant or coffee shop to field concerns from citizens who may not
feel comfortable in the confines of a police headquarters. Residents
and business owners can have coffee with and get to know their local
officers in a relaxed setting and share any concerns they may have.
Officers take notes, investigate the complaints and relate their
findings back to the citizens at a later time. Hopefully, they can
solve the problem.
reports that anywhere from six to ten people show up each time with
concerns ranging from speeding to drug activity.
By all accounts, the
program has been very well received.
And why not. It's so
simple, so clever. It's back-to-basics community
But the bigger
picture here is this: at a time when police departments are closing down
programs, Middle Township is launching them.
This is so incredibly
important for several reasons.
First, it's clear
have to learn to do more with less. We may have had to temporarily
table some of the more extravagant outreach efforts, but outreach is
For some agencies,
community contact is limited to getting ambushed at the twice-a-month
council or committee meeting.
This is a grave
When this becomes the
only vehicle for receiving complaints, it usually means that citizens don't feel
that the department is approachable by other means or they feel that the
agency is only responsive when complaints come in through elected
policing should never be viewed as a policing philosophy for good
economic times. It is for all times. And the big secret here
- which is
sometimes lost on us - is that law enforcement has more to gain from
community policing than does the public.
Finally, we need more
There are some that
will always support us. There are some that will always hate us. And
then there is the middle: those who could go either way. These are the
ones we need on our side
Between a poor
economy, an increasingly anti-law enforcement media, and a governor who
constantly points toward us and other government employees as what is
wrong with New Jersey, we have fallen from favor.
Programs like this
bring us back one citizen at a time.
believe that creating innovation or paradigmatic change in our industry
can only be done by the largest or the most well funded departments.
That is just not true.
Middle Township is a
forty-five-officer agency located in Cape May County just minutes from
the southern most tip of New Jersey. They are far from being a
metropolis, but they are doing their part.
The point here is not
that every agency should launch this specific program. This is what
works for Middle Township.
The point here is to keep
up the fight, now matter how many resources and much personnel are taken away from us.
Our job is too
important to accept anything less.
Great job to Chief
Christopher M. Leusner, Sgt. Doug Osmundsen, Cpl. Jeff DeVico, Ptl.
Scott Frazer and the Middle Township Police Department for reminding
everyone we need to keep moving forward.
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