In the cafe at the Chews Landing ShopRite on March 2, police officers from Gloucester Township gathered to chat with the community over cups of coffee.
In the front, special officers were greeting people and handing out mugs with informational pamphlets and pens. Inside, the room was filled with conversation and coffee. Many people who attended said they learned of the coffee chat through social media, but the event also reached passersby, bringing together officers, veterans and other community members. A combination of police volunteers and ranked officers was in attendance, among them Chief David Harkins.
Coffee with a Cop runs a few times a year, and it is a way for people to stop and get to know their police department. They can share concerns, ask questions about what the officers do and get informed about things they might not know, like how to report potholes or how to reach the police in a non-emergency. (The non-emergency phone number is (856) 228-4500.)
Lt. Jason Gittens, police community relations bureau commander, said the coffee event has been around since about 2010.
“It started so we could get involved with the community and allow community people to come in and talk with a police officer in more of a low key setting,” Gittens recalled. “People open up a little more when they’re just here shopping. They can stop by, maybe ask a couple of questions and get to know the police officers.”
In the past, Gloucester Township police have hosted events for the community throughout the year, including blood drives and food drives and toy donations. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the department had to cancel nearly all of the events and programs, including the annual Citizens Police Academy, a free 10-week program typically starting in January that offers an in depth look at what police officers do and allows people to become police volunteers. Aside from an upcoming blood drive on March 29, Gittens said that there are no other events scheduled. But he remains hopeful that as COVID restrictions loosen, more events and programs can happen in the future.
To stay updated with the police, visit the website https://gtpolice.com/, or follow Gloucester Township Police on Facebook.