FAIR LAWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Fair Lawn is bringing police officers and the community to the same table.
There’s no easy way to heal the schism between communities and police, but perhaps the simplest way to start is on neutral ground.
That’s why the police department started “Coffee With A Cop.”
Periodically, Fair Lawn Police Chief Glen Cauwels will invite the public to a diner for coffee and a chat.
“One day the community trusts you, you have one high-profile event that’s a little bit circumstantial, it can really ruin a relationship between police and the community, but I think these programs show that we’re here for them,” Cauwels said.
Sometimes people vent, sometimes they offer tips.
“I think as long as the communication is open between us and the public everything is going to be fine,” Cauwels said.
Following controversial shootings and tension in other parts of the country, Sgt. Brian Metzler sees this as an opportunity to be proactive.
“We are trying to get ahead of that, at least here in Fair Lawn, and let the public know we are here for them, we serve for them,” Metzler said.
Resident Jack Sheahan raised some concerns and offered praise.
“They have a tough job no matter where you’re a police officer, it’s a no-win situation a lot of times, basically they do a very good job,” Sheahan siad.
“I wanted to ask the police why they became police officers and what they can do from the inside to tear apart police brutality,” 16-year-old Bethany Koval. “They seemed uncomfortable but they definitely considered what I was saying and I appreciated that a lot.”
In addition to “Coffee With A Cop,” fair lawn also hosts “Sushi With A Cop.”