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COOS COUNTY — County residents can now get to know their local law enforcement.

The Coos County Sheriff's Department is participating in Coffee with a Cop for the first time on Monday, Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. at Bayside Coffee, located at 63340 Boat Basin Road Charleston.

House coffee will be served free of charge at this event.

“We started planning this two years ago when a deputy and I went to Coffee with a Cop training,” said Captain Kelley Andrews from the department. “I know North Bend Police have been doing this program, that it's been sweeping across the country, and it's been successful.”

Andrews is excited for the event because it gives the public a chance to meet law enforcement officers in a non-confrontational setting.

“People see us walking around with our uniforms and gun belts and ballistic vests, someone who isn't part of the community, but in reality we are all part of the community,” Andrews said. “We have homes here, our kids go to school here, we do business here. This event allows us to interact with the public in such a way where they can see this because there is no agenda, no speeches, just cops and people showing up to talk.”

About 10 to 15 officers from the department are planning on attending, as well as Sheriff Craig Zanni.

“Some of the other benefits to doing this is that once people get comfortable with us, they will tell us about crimes happening in their neighborhoods, crimes they didn't feel comfortable calling in,” Andrews said. “When Coffee with a Cop was created, this turned out to be an unexpected side benefit.”

Andrews hopes that people who attend will feel safe enough to open up to officers about events that need to be reported. He often tells deputies to talk to people when they go on patrol as a way to establish that relationship in local communities.

“I can't tell you how many times, while I've been out in those areas, when a citizen has stopped me in the middle of the road to ask if I need help,” Andrews laughed. “I tell them I'm patrolling and ask what is going on in the neighborhood. They will tell me about thieving that they dealt with and give you a feel of what's going on out there.”

Wednesday, Nov. 4 is National Coffee with a Cop Day. Next year, Andrews envisions having a week-long schedule of Coffee with a Cop, where each day an event is held in unincorporated communities throughout Coos County.

“I hope to partner with the fire department and do this even in Hauser, Allegany, and Bridge,” Andrews said. “It's important to give each little community a chance to have their say.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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