NEWBERRY — The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office hosted Coffee with a Cop to listen to concerns over coffee and donuts Wednesday morning to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.
Police Chief Roy McClurkin said events like Coffee with a Cop are crucial to finding out what is going on within the community and allows law enforcement do its job of addressing these issues.
“Any time you can sit down with the community and talk with them about issues that they have and issues that need working on, these type of events are essential to do that,” said McClurkin. “You bring people in an informal environment and they can sit down and tell you what they are seeing and you can tell them what you’re doing to address their problems and we work together to solve the issues in the community.”
McClurkin said one concern he has seen is that residents don’t want to let law enforcement know about their concerns.
“When we can have discussions like this where it’s kind of on the down low and personal you get more done,” said McClurkin. “Any time that we are out dealing with the public, we mention Smart911 to them and give them the benefits of it. It’s a partnership between us and every law enforcement agency in this county because we all have one goal and that’s to serve the public and keep the public safe, so we mention it every chance we get.”
Captain Robert Dennis echoed McClurkin’s statements adding that in light of recent tragedies across the nation, Coffee with a Cop lets residents of Newberry County know law enforcement officers are there for them.
“This is an opportunity that if folks have questions or concerns they can bring them to us in a friendly atmosphere, socialize and come and go as they please or even just come for coffee and a doughnut. That’s fine, too,” said Dennis. “The biggest thing for us is to keep that relationship going with our community because that is what really helps us in the long run to solve cases, get merchandise and other things back to people, things like that. I think it’s just above all the feeling of protection is a concern because you don’t want people to feel like they are scared to come and ask questions and that’s what we don’t want.”
Dennis added that they want residents to feel secure enough to ask questions so they can get what they need and the service they pay for.
Dennis said the biggest concerns he came across while speaking to the community was about extra patrolling for suspicious activity and incidents involving gunfire in the county.
Sheriff Lee Foster spoke with an individual who wanted to brainstorm ways to get kids involved in recreational sports in both the city and the county.
Foster also discussed possible training initiatives, including starting church security programs again.
“It’s a great time to sit down and talk with people in an informal setting. There’s been a lot of talk about the Las Vegas shooting and just general conversation about that and what you can do if you were out and about and something like that were to happen,” said Foster. “We’re going to do a training class on that just like we did with the church shooting so people will know what to do. There’s nothing wrong with being prepared.”
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.