Coffee with a Cop

Photo by Brian Ruckle: Officer Andrew Sheler speaks to Raymond Stapert during Coffee With A Cop at McDonald’s, 3649 S. Keystone in Indianapolis on Sept. 25, 2013. The Coffee with a Cop program allows citizens to meet and talk to police officers and express concerns in a comfortable and open atmosphere.

IMPD Southeast district to speak with its community about neighborhood concerns

Grab a cup of coffee and have chat with a local law enforcement officer on Jan. 21, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at McDonald’s, 5935 Madison Ave. Hosting its fourth Coffee with a Cop meeting, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Southeast district aims open up conversations with the community on any complaints or concerns they may have.

“The officers that have come out with us think that this is important, believe that it’s important, because we can’t be active in our community without the citizens or neighborhood groups,” said community relations officer, Andrew Sheler. “It gives us a great opportunity to get to know everybody in the community and provide the services that need provided.”

The Southeast district has held the Coffee with a Cop program approximately every eight weeks since they began in July, 2013. Sheler said they have been surprised by the turnout, with 48 people coming in during the last two-hour event. He says that is far more walk-ins or runs that the officers receive during a two-hour period on any normal day.

“When they come talk to us, it’s a relief to them, gives us good face-to-face interaction and allows us to follow up on those complaints,” Sheler said.

Sheler said most of the complaints they receive during Coffee with a Cop are neighbor disputes – how they keep up their property, a noisy animal, etc. Also common are narcotic or criminal tips. He said the majority of people who attend don’t ever call the police, but have helpful information the officers can follow up on.

Five officers typically attend Coffee with a Cop, including two officers from the Southeast district, a sergeant, Southeast District Commander John Conley, people from the prosecutor’s office and a representative from the Mayor’s Neighborhood Liaison office. Sheler says when they learned of the program, which originated in California, from the department of justice Web site they decided it was a great way to reach out to the community. Currently, the Southeast district is the only branch of the IMPD which hosts the Coffee with a Cop.

“We want to keep it going,” Sheler said. “Our goal is a basic goal that comes down to we want to build the trust back up to the community. We want them to reach out to us when they are in need of help. We want to go back to being more proactive in the neighborhood as opposed to reactive.”