Community engagement is important within police departments, and the Gilbert Police Department has made efforts to interact with its community in more ways than just a traffic stop or call for service.
Gilbert police are actively partnering with different local businesses or organizations to promote Coffee With a Cop, Chill With a Cop, and Gelato With a Cop. These include Black Rifle Coffee Company, Power Ranch Homeowners Association, 212 Ice Cream, and Tifa Chocolate and Gelato.
“It creates an atmosphere where we can have open communication with the community,” Gilbert Police Officer Levi Leyba said. “This breaks down barriers between us and the community.
“This is great for the officer because oftentimes when we are in the community for a call for service officers are distracted. This is a distraction free time where we can have great communication.”
These events promote a relaxed and neutral atmosphere where residents can ask questions or simply get to know who works in their community.
Coffee with a Cop originated on the West Coast, and due to its impact and successes it has since gone nationwide, said Danny Guevara from Black Rifle Coffee Company.
Gilbert Police Department and Mesa Police Department came together Sept. 27 at Black Rifle Coffee Company for Coffee With a Cop, which was the first of its kind, Leyba said.
“The families love connecting with the police department,” Guevara said. “Kids love seeing the officers and their vehicles.”
Not only do these events promote community engagement, but local businesses also have potential to thrive.
Last month, Black Rifle Coffee Company had an increase of foot traffic and customers during the Coffee with a Cop event, according to Guevara.
Community engagement events like Coffee with a Cop have the best success with strong marketing on both ends. Social media is utilized in order to reach broad audiences and explain the motives for the police department as well as the community.
Power Ranch Homeowners Association annually hosts a Coffee with a Cop event, which is open to both Power Ranch residents and Gilbert residents.
“We love getting to know our community, not just those who live in Power Ranch,” said Sarah Van Duyne from Power Ranch. “We enjoy seeing the rest of the city and city staff. Coffee with a Cop is a fun way to connect those worlds.”
Power Ranch has been providing its space to the police department for the past five years.
Businesses are able to reach out to the community engagement unit at the police department, which is run by the public information officers, Leyba and Brenda Carrasco.
Recently, Alta Climbing offered its space to the police department for Climb With a Cop. The event was a success, according to Leyba. Kids loved the opportunity to climb while being accompanied by local law enforcement officials.
All events being hosted by local businesses in partnership with the police department are advertised on the police department’s Instagram and Facebook pages. All events are open to the public, and it is highly encouraged as the police department enjoys every opportunity to get to know their neighbors, officers said.
Avery DeLuca is a journalism student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. We would like to invite our readers to submit their civil comments, pro or con, on this issue. Email AZOpinions@iniusa.org.