The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office recently held its first “Coffee with a Cop,” gathering, but the police outnumbered the residents who attended.
More than 20 police officers attended, but only five Alachua County residents showed up at the Chick-Fil-A on Archer Road on Feb. 3 to learn more about the sheriff’s office work.
Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Art Forgey, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said it will try to hold future events in different parts of the county and on weekends to make it convenient for more residents to attend. It also plans to continue to promote the gatherings through its social media pages and through its phone app. Forgey also said officers will also hand out flyers in their districts.
Anyone was welcome to attend the event, and attendees were treated to free coffee. Attendee Dwayne Helle stressed the value of such an event.
“Police take a lot of stuff they shouldn’t have to take,” he said. “So when they offer something, you ought to be here. So that’s what I did. Plus it was great fun. I had no idea I’d have so many great conversations with these guys.”
The sheriff’s office hopes such events will help humanize deputies and get rid of the negative stereotypes surrounding their profession.
Sgt. Becky Butscher, of the sheriff’s office’s criminal investigations division, said the officers want attendees to be unafraid of talking to them about anything.
“It’s important for us to reach out to our community and just let them know that we’re here, we’re approachable and we’ll talk to you about whatever we can talk to you about,” Butscher said. “This is a good program.”
The sheriff’s office will post updates on Facebook about when and where the next event will be.