Coffee With A Cop Facilitates Communication And Understanding

Members of law enforcement and the public had an opportunity to get to know each other outside of an emergency situation. In the case of this picture, the police officer [Riley Calhoun] gets a bit more instruction from mom.

Members of law enforcement and the public had an opportunity to get to know each other outside of an emergency situation. In the case of this picture, the police officer [Riley Calhoun] gets a bit more instruction from mom.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Tucked inside the Brickhouse Cafe, law enforcement gathered for some coffee and conversation with the community they serve.

The hope in bringing law enforcement and the community together over a cup of coffee is to facilitate that conversation in a neutral location where both law enforcement and community members can hear and learn from each other.

“Law enforcement struggles enough with their relationship with the community, with the way sometimes the national media portrays law enforcement. We see people in their worst days sometimes. We need to do more non-enforcement meetings. We need to be seeing people in conversational days instead of you called 911, what happened,” said Boeke.

The majority of times, law enforcement and the public interact at highly stressful situations, such as domestic incidents, victims of a robbery, or hurt in an automobile accident.

“We [law enforcement] need to do more of this, hey, how are you today,” added Boeke who says he has pleasant conversations with residents often. “It’s Iowa.”

Oskaloosa Police Chief Benjamin Boeke, who recently moved to the community from Rockford, Illinois, spoke with Oskaloosa News.

Transitioning from the police department near his former home to the role of police chief in Oskaloosa has been “relatively easy” and has been focusing on the big picture for the department.

“Right now, we’re kind of in a crisis. I’m in hiring mode,” Boeke said, as he spoke to a possible recruit.

Boeke explained that many of the laws between Illinois and Iowa are mostly the same, and often comes down to terminology. An example would be “we have criminal damage to property in Illinois, [where as] we have criminal mischief here [Iowa].”

Boeke explained that he continues to learn those differences between the two states, but his focus is on helping his staff continue to grow.

When it comes to having ‘Coffee with a Cop,’ Boeke thanked Michelle Purdum of Legacy Real Estate for making the day possible.

Kory Wright, owner of the Brickhouse Cafe, immediately offered his cafe as the meeting spot. A couple of meetings later, and “it’s been great,” added Boeke.

“There have been some good conversations,” Boeke states about the day’s coffee and conversation. The plan, for now, is to have the event annually, but if there is interest “we might have it every couple of months.”

Boeke says that the biggest challenge the Oskaloosa Police Department is facing right now is the turnover in personnel. “We’re losing people to the Des Moines metro area. We need to focus on why we want to be here, and what our ultimate goals are here, as a department.”

For Boeke, he’s landed precisely where he wants to be. “I’m moving my whole family here. This is a whole new world for me that I’ve never seen before. A small town that has a lot going on, and it’s pretty amazing.”

“People that are from here don’t necessarily realize what they have here. People that come here from outside go ‘wow, there’s a lot going on in this town,'” added Boeke. “My daughter, 15-year-old, could have had a really hard transition. She gets out of the car the other day at the high school, and just unprovoked says, ‘I really like it here.'”

When the idea first came up, Wright met with Purdum and Boeke and worked out the details of hosting ‘Coffee with a Cop’ in Oskaloosa. Similar meetings were taking place around the country.

“He [Boeke] didn’t even get halfway through his little speel, and I told him yes,” said Wright of the decision to host.

Wright also serves on the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy, making it a natural fit. “Just like everything, I jump in both feet first.”

Having the opportunity to sit down in a comfortable situation was important for Wright. Before he put on the badge, his interactions with law enforcement were the typical citation. “For a lot of people, they don’t have a great history with cops, because if they ever see one, it’s because they’re getting pulled over.”

Several dozen community members took the opportunity to get to know their local law enforcement, while in turn, law enforcement had a chance to see people on a day that probably wasn’t one of their worst, and could interact in a non-emergency situation.

Posted by on Oct 5 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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