A new public outreach in coffee shops by members of the Portland Police Force seems welcome

DAVID F. ASHTON - Officers Steve Sharp and Carrie Hutchinson listen to neighbors during an early October afternoon Coffee with a Cop informal discussion at Sellwoods Blue Kangaroo coffee shop. The afternoon of October 3, every seat was taken at Sellwood's Blue Kangaroo Coffee Roasters on S.E. 13th, for "Coffee with a Cop" – providing the opportunity for residents to talk with and get to know neighborhood police officers.

"This kind of friendly and informal location is a good place for neighbors to voice concerns, ask questions, discuss problems – and, perhaps come up with solutions – with their local police officers," explained the event's organizer, Portland Police Bureau Central Precinct Acting Sergeant Jason Jones, who was also present.

After listening to several neighbors while sitting on one of overstuffed sofas, Jones, a member of the Bureau's "Enhanced Crisis Intervention Training team", told THE BEE of the subjects he'd heard about that afternoon.

"The top issue so far has been how homelessness affects the neighborhoods; followed closely by concern of how people experiencing mental health issues can spill into the everyday lives of neighbors," Jones recounted. Other issues included property and other crimes, and then public safety concerns.

Asked what it was like to sit down with neighbors and just chat, Jones replied, "Talking to ordinary people is a breath of fresh air.

"Some people are curious about us and our professions; others have questions about law enforcement and how it applies to them," Jones recalled. "The great thing is that they want to connect with us as human beings; and this is refreshing for us."

Looking around the room at the other Bureau personnel present, Jones volunteered, "The people here have the 'right stuff' to be a cop; we're interested in human behavior, and are often fascinated as we try to understand what drives people to do what they do.

"Through understanding an individual's behavior, we can sometimes find people who are ready to make changes in their lives, and who will let us help them find resources to assist them in finding a pathway to recovery, health and personal success," Jones remarked.

"Yes, we're often surrounded by trauma, crisis, and sometimes unfortunate outcomes, but we're in this profession because we love people, and care about people," Jones concluded, turning to listen to another coffee drinker in Sellwood.

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