UNHPD brews interest at 'Coffee with a Cop' event

By Melissa Proulx
On April 4, 2014

On Thursday, officers from the UNH Police Department continued to do their part to create community and conversation on campus. This time, they swapped cruisers for coffee for their first ever Coffee with a Cop session. 

Dozens gathered around the Dunkin' Donuts outside of Holloway Commons to participate in the department's first installment of the national program, which allows students to ask police officers anything and everything. The nearly hour and a half event was free to the public, though it did technically sell out after every free coffee voucher ended up in the hands of one of the over 200 people who attended.

The program began in Hawthorne, Calif., and similar Coffee with a Cop programs have been held in 175 cities and towns in 36 states, according to the program's website. The overall purpose of the events is to create a relaxed environment that allows officers and the public to discuss important community issues. It was this characteristic that made Executive Director of Public Safety Paul Dean decide to bring the event to campus. The huge turnout only solidified his hopes for the day.

"This couldn't have been more successful," Dean said, looking around and smiling at the students and officers interacting with one another. 

Ethan Bettinger, a freshman business administration major and member of Kappa Sigma who heard about the event through Facebook, used the opportunity to learn how to effectively be a better member of a fraternity.

"I think this a good idea, to meet a couple of the cops and talk to them," Bettinger said.

"It's great awareness for the police force," sophomore computer science major Brian Teune said. Teune used the opportunity to ask the various officers in attendance about how their jobs impact their personal lives.

This is not the department's first initiative to create positive relationships with students on campus. According to Dean, the department participates almost nightly in a similarly designed Cookies with a Cop program. This program allows dorm residents to speak with officers about any concerns they might have. The department is also currently hosting its eighth annual Citizens Police Academy, which allows those who sign up to learn about and experience firsthand what it means to be a cop. Dean hopes to continue similar programming in the future, though the events have not yet been scheduled. 

"I believe in students, I love connecting with the students and this is a way to show [them] who we really are," Dean said.

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