JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – After a string of officer-related shootings nationwide, there has been growing tensions between police and the people.
All of a community’s problems can’t be solved over a cup of coffee, but law enforcement in Jackson say it’s a good start.
This year’s National Coffee with a Cop Day took place Friday Oct. 7.
Nationwide, law enforcement met with community members over coffee to make connections and discuss concerns.
The Jackson law enforcement community held their event at Bigby Coffee on Wisner Street in Jackson.
Dozens of citizens came out to talk with officers from Jackson Police, Jackson County, Blackman-Leoni Public Safety, and Michigan State Police.
When police are out and about, for some, it’s hard to see beyond the badge.
“We’re no different than anyone else. And we’re just trying to do our job, which sometimes can be difficult,” said Jackson Police Chief Matthew Heins.
At the event, community members were able to talk to officers face to face.
“It’s a wide spectrum of conversation and most of it’s positive. Occasionally we’ll hear issues that they may have and we’re able to address those or at least attempt to address those,” Heins said.
This is happening at a time when there’s growing tension between police and the people they serve.
“I think it’s an issue of educating the community about how we operate and why we do the things we do. Because many times it’s misunderstood from an officer’s safety standpoint. But on the flip side of that, we need to be willing to say we made a mistake, we didn’t do that right,” Heins said.
Greg Hardrick came to the event hoping to build bridges.
“I had bad relationships with officers, but my perception has changed. I know that every officer is not bad. I know every officer is a human being,” Hardrick said.
He says events like this make a big difference.
“It’s about not letting the fear of the issue override you. Just keeping calm and knowing that we have officers to address those issues so if I know anything, maybe help the officer to address those issues,” Hardick said.
While Coffee with a Cop happens every year, police in Jackson are considering holding another event soon.