When residents interact with police outside of an emergency situation, Birk said it shows “we are people and not just officers doing a job.”
He said the department is bringing back its Community Oriented Policing Unit that will put additional police officers into neighborhoods to address, among other issues, the drug epidemic and homelessness in downtown.
A woman who lives in Dublin House on Central Avenue and the owner of the coffee shop believe getting to know the police chief is important because he should be visible and not be an administrator who sits behind his desk.
“I love knowing the police chief,” said Liz Martin, who has lived at Dublin House for 10 years.
She described all her interactions with Middletown police as “positive” and said she has met several officers when she visits the Mid-Pointe Library.
Heather Gibson, owner of Triple Moon, has hosted several community events at her coffee shop. She hopes “Coffee with the Chief”and other pro-police events help “bridge the gap” between law enforcement and residents.
“This is a way for the community to stay in touch with the police and for the police to stay in touch with the community,” Gibson said. “The chief needs to be out in the community and known by the people. That way, if he makes a mistake, people may say, ‘He’s OK. He’s a good guy.’”
Gibson called police and residents working together “a turning point for a community.”