Residents are invited to have coffee with a cop to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the community with formal and informal conversations.

Free cups of coffee are starting conversations between police and residents to discuss what efforts could be made to make Erie safer for all. Coffee, cops, and community is the drive of “Coffee with a Cop” at Tim Hortons on East 12th Street and Premium Coffee on West 38th Street.

“So this ‘Coffee with a Cop’ is an opportunity to engage with law enforcement get to know them on a human level, have conversations, dialogue, ask questions, get some answers to some things they may want to know,” said Michael Outlaw, community liaison, office of the mayor for the City of Erie.

Lieutenant Russo told us what the conversations are about.

“Today we’ve had a wide variety of conversations about our homeless population and what we can do better as law enforcement in our community,” said Lt. Jamie Russo, City of Erie Police.

The mayor of Erie also had conversations with residents about what can be done in the community.

“I’ve had some very serious discussions at both locations with a couple of people. In fact, we’re going to go to lunch together and talk about things more about how we deal with the homeless in Erie, which is a growing problem in Erie right now,” said Joe Schember, mayor of Erie.

Aside from the hard-hitting conversations, residents have the opportunity to get to know their local law enforcement.

“We have husbands, we have wives, we have kids, we’re married so they get to come out here and meet us on a personal basis, an informal basis, and develop that relationship that the community and law enforcement agencies should be able to maintain,” said Lt. Russo.

The mayor said the next steps will involve making the community safer for all residents.

“We’ve had about 55 people shot in Erie this year. We’re only three-quarters of the way through the year. That really bothers me, and I think this is hopefully a step towards ending that and turning it around,” said Mayor Joe Schember, City of Erie.

Lieutenant Russo said they will continue to have these events every year at different locations throughout Erie.