ACT Policing have brought their ‘Coffee with a Cop’ program back to life, inviting locals to get chatting over a cup of joe.
The first free event of the year was hosted at Pixie and Bear Café in Casey Market Town this morning, 19 March, encouraging members of the Gungahlin community to grab a free coffee and chat with officers from Gungahlin Police Station, Road Policing and Community Safety.
Officer in Charge of Gungahlin Police Station, Inspector Rachel Hutka, said people can talk about anything that is on their mind.
“They can ask us police law related questions, recruitment questions or just give us information about things they’re seeing in their community,” Inspector Hutka said.
Coffee with a Cop began as an international initiative and has been successful in other Australian police jurisdictions such as New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria. In 2019, ACT Policing introduced the program to the Canberra region, visiting Lyneham and Molonglo before it was placed on hold due to COVID-19.
Bec Primrose co-owns Pixie and Bear Café with her brother Aaron Warner. The pair were first approached in March 2020 about hosting an event and a year later they were excited to see it come to life.
“The emergency services in the Gungahlin area are already customers of ours so the fact they thought of us to host this event was quite overwhelming and heart-warming,” Ms Primrose said.
She said the initiative is particularly important as there have been complaints of crime in the Casey area.
“There’s been a few neighbouring businesses that have had windows smashed, break-ins and our tables have been graffitied,” she said.
“Most of the time it’s just general vandalism but when these things continue to happen, homes in the area are getting broken into and cars are getting stolen, it becomes a bit of a concern.”
“Our boys and girls in blue are there to help us. Most of the time when people have dealings with police officers it is in a negative light … I thought it was a really fantastic initiative and a really great opportunity for members of the community to come have a chat, ask questions and voice their concerns.”
Rhonda Wadey travelled from Florey to speak to officers with her young sons Nathaniel and Alexander after discovering the event on Instagram. She said she wanted to teach them what a police officer looked like.
“We came to say hello. Nathaniel’s on his way to four and we wanted him to know what a police officer looked like,” she said.
“I think it’s really important in this day and age if he gets lost and needs help or if Mum and Dad aren’t around, that he knows who safe people are … I think it’s fantastic engagement with the community.”
Inspector Hutka said she was excited to see the program return, this time to the Gungahlin area, and hopes the program will continue across the region.
“It’s really important to us that the members of the community have the opportunity to come and see us in a relaxed environment.”