Officers from the California Highway Patrol Santa Maria office and community members will come together in an informal, neutral space to discuss community issues, have coffee and build relationships, noon Nov. 19 at Starbucks, 1201 E. Main St.

Direct questions to Officer Benjamin Smith, 805-349-8728, besmith@chp.ca.gov.

Coffee With a Cop provides an opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the CHP Department’s work in Santa Barbara County neighborhoods.

The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building with the community, and some community members may feel officers are unapproachable on the street.

Coffee Wth a Cop breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.

“We hope community members will welcome the opportunity to ask questions, bring concerns forward, or simply get to know our officers,” said Cmdr. Brown. “These interactions are the foundation of community partnerships.”

Coffee With a Cop is a national initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Similar events are being held across the country as local police departments strive to make lasting connections with the communities they serve.

The program aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and community members one cup of coffee at a time.

— Officer Benjamin Smith for California Highway Patrol.