Since 2017, the Grove City Division of Police's Coffee with a Cop program has helped brew up opportunities for residents to interact with and ask questions of the department's administrators and police officers.
"It's a chance for our community members to meet our officers outside of a law-enforcement situation," crime-prevention coordinator Jennifer Kentner said.
"It's a more casual, more informal and potentially less intimidating setting," she said.
Kentner is organizing the next Coffee with a Cop event, set for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, at Capital City Cakes, 4009 Broadway.
"We always pick a place that serves coffee in Grove City," she said. "There's no formal presentation or specific topic.
"The lieutenants, chiefs and police officers who are available are just hanging out, having some coffee and welcome the chance to meet with residents."
Chief Rick Butsko often attends the events, too, but he is expected to be out of town Dec. 13 and unable to attend that session, Kentner said.
While exact numbers aren't tallied, Kentner estimates that between 15 and 20 people interact with police at a typical event.
"Some people don't realize we're going to be there and end up walking over to talk to one of us," she said. "For other people, it's a chance to bring up an issue they may not think is important enough to call 911 or to stop an officer who's on duty to tell about.
"Any issue someone may have, even a minor one, that they bring to our attention at a Coffee with a Cop event is something we'll listen to and look into what we can do to help resolve it," Kentner said.
"The Coffee with a Cop event is a way that we can partner with the community by bringing local businesses, community and police together in one place," said Tom Durflinger, the department's community relations supervisor. "It allows us to have a conversation in a non-enforcement way and helps build trust between the police and the community."
The program is part of the police department's outreach to the residents and business owners it serves and protects, Kentner said.
"It's part of our community policing approach," she said. "We want to encourage our residents to work as partners with us."
Grove City's police officers can't be everywhere at once, Kentner said, and residents can serve as their eyes and ears and report suspicious activity when they see it.