Evanston to bring together police, residents for ‘Coffee with a Cop’

Tori Latham, Assistant City Editor

Evanston’s 6th Ward will host “Coffee with a Cop” Tuesday, allowing residents to chat with officers from the Evanston Police Department in a casual setting.

The city is participating in the national program, which started in 2011, as a way for community members to talk with police officers about any concerns or questions they have.

Officer Loyce Spells and 6th Ward Community Policing Officer Dan Kooi will be available at Starbucks, 2114 Central St., on Tuesday from 8 to 10 a.m. Spells said the event will be a way for the police department to build on its relationship with the community.

“We have been leaders in the area for years,” he said. “We have a great rapport with the community and I hope this will make things even more transparent.”

Spells said citizens have the chance to discuss formal issues in aldermanic meetings, but this event will give them an informal chance to meet the officers.

“The meetings don’t really give citizens the opportunity to know us,” he said. “This way they can ask who we are and we can do the same with them.”

Charliese Agnew, the city’s community engagement specialist, said this is the third time Evanston is holding a police meet-and-greet. The two previous events took place in June and September.

“We’re encouraging everyone and anyone to attend,” she said. “We want it to be a way to familiarize the people with the police. It’s not policing, but just conversation.”

Agnew said Tuesday’s event will be the first time the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association is sponsoring the event, allowing the city to offer free coffee to residents.

“We have had such a positive response from the community,” Agnew said. “The residents have voiced their want for an event like this, something they can be involved in. It’s not aimed toward just one group, but the whole city.”

Noting recent tensions between the police and civilians that have been spreading throughout the nation, Agnew noted how vital an event like this has become.

“It’s important to stay in the line of communication with the police and the community,” said Agnew. “Even if it’s hard to hear, it’s important to have these conversations.”

Spells shared Agnew’s opinion and brought up former British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s principles of law enforcement, which were created as a way to outline the actions of an ethical police force.

“One of them says something along the lines of the community is the police and the police is the community,” he said. “We want it to be seen as a we rather than an us and them.”

Spells said the conversations would allow for a different level of understanding and respect between the police department and the community.

“It will dispel preconceived notions people have of the police,” he said. “It’s imperative that people see officers as human beings. They forget that we are sons, daughters, husbands, wives, parents just doing a job.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @latham_tori