Conversation Over Coffee

There was a good group of first responders and members of the community this past week at the Brickhouse Cafe for Coffee with a Cop.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The premise of Coffee with a Cop is to allow citizens to hold a conversation with their local law enforcement in an inviting setting.

Many people’s first interaction with law enforcement is often under highly stressful situations. Sitting down over a cup of coffee allows people to discuss anything from the weather to policy in a relaxed setting.

Oskaloosa Police Chief Benjamin Boeke said the event is important, “to get us out in the community. No agenda, no talking points. Just having coffee, talking about local issues with people that care about what’s going on in this community.”

Boeke says that there are some crime issues in Oskaloosa, “but a lot of times, people call in with what looks to us like minor issues. But it’s big issues to them, and they need things taken care of. So a lot of times, we just respond to complaints within the community. That gives us the chance to talk to people about anything.”

Nationwide, the public perception of law enforcement has taken on a negative light.

“Law enforcement sometimes, nationwide, does get a negative view,” said Boeke of the media coverage. “That’s just based on some of the coverage that is out there. There are good things happening in law enforcement, across communities, across this nation, all the time; it’s just not exciting to cover. So a lot of times, they don’t get coverage. This is a chance to just make some connections with people that maybe haven’t run into us in any other type of situation.”

Social media in the Oskaloosa area has been buzzing with images of Oskaloosa Police officers playing football, visiting a lemonade stand.

Boeke said that once his officers starting hearing that this is part of our job, “We should be out there in the community, we should be having fun. We should be out having coffee with people, playing ball with kids, talking with kids at the skate park. I didn’t need to say it twice; they jumped at the idea. So they’ve taken that on their own.”

Boeke has been in his position as police chief for about a year-and-a-half now. “The big push right now for the next year or so is to just make sure that everyone in this community understands, we are part of this community, and they are part of our department. So we are in this to help each other.”

“As far as crime management and community service in this community, We’re all in this together,” added Boeke.

Kory Wright, who hosted Coffee with a Cop, is the owner of the Brickhouse Cafe and a Mahaska County Sheriff’s Reserve member.

Wright said that community awareness is the biggest reason he wanted to host the event. “It’s a non-threatening place where they can come, sit down, and just have a conversation with us.

When it comes to being a reserve deputy, a volunteer position, Wright says, “It’s a job that I love to do in my spare time, the little bit that I have. I truly enjoy getting out and meeting the public.”

The Mahaska County Sheriff’s Reserve was recently recognized by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for their volunteer work in the county and beyond.

You will often see reserve members at community events in New Sharon, Eddyville, Fremont, and Oskaloosa, besides being in a squad car, to help the full-time deputies get some much needed time off.

Their volunteer service ensures that the county has a law enforcement presence out there protecting them.

“We’re spread pretty thin in the county,” explained Wright. “One or two guys on [duty] to cover the whole county. So for us, if we can come in and give these guys as much backup as we can, it’s something we just love to do.”

Holly Ridenour was at the Brickhouse Cafe with her young family “so the kids can have a chance to meet some of our local police officers and just get to know them as a person and to ask questions to find out what it’s like to be a police officer.”

Those questions from Ridenour’s family included wanting to know how police officers know if someone is actually speeding, how they get their badges.

Ridenour appreciated the opportunity to expose her family to law enforcement in a positive situation versus them having initial contact in a negative situation.

Ridenour says it’s good that police are there to respond to a negative situation, but appreciated the chance for the kids to see them and meet them in a pleasant environment.

Posted by on Oct 4 2019. 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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