MINT HILL – The Mint Hill Roasting Company and Coffee House was probably the safest place in town on the morning of Feb. 5.
Inside the coffee house, several Mint Hill police officers, including Chief of Police Tim Ledford, and several volunteers took part in the department’s monthly Coffee with a Cop. More than a dozen people mingled and chatted with police personnel over coffee during the event.
Coffee with a Cop is a national program supported by The U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Coffee with a Cop aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and the community while enjoying a cup of Joe. Coffee with a Cop in Mint Hill is the first Tuesday of every month and is held at locations across town.
Ledford had several discussions with citizens over coffee. He said Coffee with a Cop helps break down barriers while building relationships between the department and residents.
“The concept is let’s meet in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, as opposed to the side of the road when someone is maybe getting a citation for something,” Ledford said. “If you have issues with the police department, this is a great time to talk about it. We have had good success with it. I have had two show up, and I have had 50 show up. The people have overwhelmingly given us positive feedback about being accessible to the public.”
Ledford said no issue or problem is too small to discuss at Coffee with a Cop.
“People feel a little intimidated coming to the police department,” Ledford said. “Some people don’t like calling the police department because they feel like they are taking our time. If it is a big thing for our citizens, it’s a big thing to our police department. We can address those issues through this.”
Town Commissioner Dale Dalton said the event is a good opportunity to interact with residents in a relaxed setting.
“It’s a chance to listen to the people and hear what their concerns are,” Dalton said. “The key to everything is listening and we can let them know we are interested in what they have to say.”
Linda McCradden, of Mint Hill, is a volunteer police officer. One of her duties is organizing the monthly Coffee with a Cop. She also does clerical work at the department for several hours each week.
“I’m retired and I wanted something to do during the week,” McCradden said. “I also volunteer at Servant’s Heart on Thursdays. It breaks up my week and it feels like I am helping the community.”
Ledford said volunteer officers are a tremendous help to the department. Their work ranges from administrative tasks in the office to assisting police with traffic if they see a crash.
“These are retirees that are looking for something else to do and give back to the community,” Ledford said.