The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.

Western Courier

OPS and MPD hosts coffee with a cop

Tabi Jozwick, Courier Staff

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Western Illinois University’s Office of Public Safety (OPS) and the Macomb Police Department  (MPD) hosted Coffee with a Cop on Wednesday to allow members of the campus community to come together with local law enforcement officers to ask questions, voice concerns and become familiar with the officers. OPS hosted their Coffee with a Cop at the University Union Concourse while the MPD hosted theirs at Hy-Vee.

 “The purpose of Coffee with a Cop is to have a one-on-one interaction with police officers,” said Office of Public Safety Police Sergeant Derick Watts. “There’s no agenda, there’s no program and there’s no PowerPoint. It’s just if you have a question, you go up and ask a police officer what your question is and you get free coffee or water out of the deal, so it’s a win-win for the students.”

 Both Watts and Macomb Police Officer Troy Shoudel said people may be scared to talk to law enforcement officers, especially if they see a police officer on the street. They believed that Coffee with a Cop is a good way to interact with local law enforcement officers.

 “Sometimes people aren’t comfortable speaking out in a public setting,” Shoudel said. “Maybe there’s a question that they are not comfortable voicing out in from of an entire room. Coffee with a Cop takes just about your average citizen and puts them in touch face to face, not at a podium, with somebody who is your low level, what I call, is your basic cog in the system, not the chief, not the public
information officer.”

 According to Shoudel, citizens of any district, county or city should become familiar with the officers who pledged their life to serve and protect them.

 “You call 911 because you have some emergency or someone breaking into your house, whatever the case may be, the people that you will be talking with today are some of the officers that are coming out and the public deserves to have confidence in those people if they do call,” Shoudel said.

 Communications major Richard Lawrence spent some time talking with OPS officers about the national anthem protest at the homecoming game, to ask questions about the issues between Western’s black community and OPS and to bridge the gap with answers and solutions.

 “You create a better trust, create a better relationship when you have dialogue,” Lawrence said. “I feel that the more we dialogue, the more we ask questions, share our concerns and now they know our problem and we know their problem, now we can come up with solutions. Now we can work together, figure out how we can make things better for both of problems.”

 Both OPS and MPD used various ways to reach out to the people from their Facebook pages to their programs. OPS teach self-defense courses, give lectures to University 100 classes, do safety floor programs and give out prizes to students who practiced safety habits. 

 “We have an Explorer program that is growing leaps and bounds in recent years,” Shoudel said. “It involves having to give youngsters a kind of breakout into the world of policing and to get to know about it a little bit more rather than maybe trying to decide whatever to go to college to be a cop. It gives them a little taste of all the different things before they get into that. We also have a citizen police academy, which is a recent development and it brings in people who are residents of the community and go through a pseudo police training that is very similar to what we got. We had a great response
from that.”

 Shoudel stressed that police officers not only work for their communities, but that they also live within the communities.

 “We are your wrestling coaches, your cheerleading coaches for your kids,” Shoudel said. “Some people don’t realize that because they see us wearing our uniforms all the time and it could be intimidating.” 

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
OPS and MPD hosts coffee with a cop