Coffee with a cop

The Hazelwood Police Department holds events designed to engage with the community and to build relationships between officers and citizens 

By Charlotte Beard

“We, the members of the Hazelwood Police Department, are committed to being responsible to our community in the delivery of quality services. Recognizing our responsibility to maintain order, while affording dignity and respect to every individual, our objective is to improve the quality of life through a community partnership which promotes safe, secure neighborhoods.”

The Hazelwood Police Department (HPD) aims to carry out this mission by going beyond the function of law enforcement in its community. The HPD is providing Hazelwood’s citizens one-on-one opportunities to meet and talk with police officers that patrol its city tomorrow, May 23 at its ‘Coffee & Cake With A Cop’ event, 8:30 to 10 a.m. at McDonald’s Restaurant located at 6720 Howdershell Road. 

Residents will be treated to McCafé Coffee and cake at the meet-up. Those who engage with an officer at the event will have an opportunity to spin McDonald’s Wheel to win food coupons. The HPD desires residents utilize the time to ask questions, express concerns, and become better acquainted with the officers that patrol their community. Law enforcement believes that this is a great opportunity to discuss any neighborhood problems, safety issues and ways to reduce crime.

When Sgt. Ken Eckardt took over the position of Neighborhood Action Team (NAT) Supervisor, one of his first initiatives was to reach out to business owners to collaborate in community engagement opportunities in a social setting. He states that when they hosted an event at the McDonald’s on Pershall approximately three years ago, an estimated 40 people were in attendance.

 “This is the basic start. We do the ‘Coffee & Cake With A Cop’ annually,” stated Eckardt. 

Hazelwood residents who miss the May 23 event will be given another opportunity on June 11 at the HPD’s ‘Breakfast with Badges’ event at Denny’s Restaurant located at 5789 Campus Parkway from 8 to 10 a.m.. Residents will receive a complimentary breakfast and be given the same opportunity for discussions with Hazelwood officers.

“We have done the ‘Breakfast with Badges’ now for three years, although we had similar events prior to the previous two that were named differently,” shared Eckardt. “It is the same concept with regards to event goals for the ‘Coffee and Cake’ (event), but our Hazelwood Police Benevolent Association purchases breakfast for the residents that attend.”

The HPD’s philosophy in part holds that “… the community cannot succeed in maintaining a decent, open and orderly community without a professional and responsive police department. The police must be more than a reactive force that responds to crimes already committed. We must react as a proactive entity, able to deal with a broad variety of conditions, which tend to disrupt the community peace and adversely affect the quality of life.”

Eckardt states of these engagement events, “The main objective is to build upon an already strong commitment and relationship with our residents. We want them to meet the officers that patrol their specific area. We want to make sure they understand that our department is committed to providing them with a safe community and can trust that we are there to protect and serve them regardless of the circumstances. We want them to understand that their quality of life is important to us and if they are experiencing anything different, we want to aid them as best we can to improve their situation. In addition to the two events, we extend our community goals in order to formulate other community meetings/events (to) address any concerns someone may have. Again, and most important is that we want our residents to feel comfortable with all of us on a social and professional level so that we can provide them with what they expect from their police department.”

For more information about HPD events visit http://www.hazelwoodmo.org/whats-new.

CUTLINE: Photos courtesy city of Hazelwood Hazelwood Police officers and Hazelwood residents meet with each other at previous “Breakfast with Badges” events.