Not Loving It? Have "Coffee With a Cop"

In an ongoing effort to build a constructive dialogue with the community, McLean County police departments will share java and jawbone with residents March 13.

Representatives from Bloomington, Normal, and Illinois State University police departments and the McLean County Sheriff's Department will participate in Coffee with a Cop -- an extension of a national program -- from 7 to 10 a.m. that Friday at McDonald's, 525 Brock Drive, Bloomington.

McDonald's will provide free coffee to all who attend.

Coffee with a Cop was started by a California police department in 2011 as part of its community policing effort, and today, some 175 communities in 36 states offer Coffee with a Cop programs. Sara Mayer, public affairs officer with the Bloomington police, maintains the relaxed sitdown can improve community relations.

"You don't call 911 when everything is going well," Mayer notes. "This allows a one-on-one, builds partnerships and trust."

ISU police have met with students in a similar fashion for a couple of years, a few times each semester. "It's a good opportunity to see us in more of an approachable venue ... in this case, a relaxed environment," Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said.