Because their developments straddle county lines and city lines, many residents in the Skybrook and Highland Creek communities may be confused as to who is responsible for patrolling their neighborhoods.
That is partly why Sgt. Kevin Tatur, with the Huntersville Police Department, organized a Coffee With a Cop event at The Sweet Spot in Concord, near the Skybrook community, on March 29 to help the residents build lasting relationships with the officers who are sworn protect them.
Members of the Huntersville, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Concord police departments were joined by members of the Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties sheriff’s departments in an effort to foster better communication with the residents in the surrounding area.
Tatur started organizing these events last year and thought a multi-agency approach would work best in this area that is covered by the five law enforcement agencies.
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“We want to improve relations between the police and the communities. Letting them know that instead of working against, we work for – and want to work with – them (the residents),” said Tatur.
Tatur said he felt the casual atmosphere of the meetings “breaks the barrier between the citizens and the cops,” he said. Residents can learn more about the men and women who patrol their streets by discussing the neighborhoods’ concerns.
“We want them to feel comfortable with approaching and speaking to their local law enforcement officers so they can help us to avoid problems and stop them before they start,” said Tatur.
Chris Hazen and his wife, Jayn Hazen, were catching a quick lunch when Tatur approached them. The couple is building in the Skybrook community and were visiting a local church earlier.
After speaking with Tatur, looking around the restaurant at all the law enforcement officers, Chris Hazen said, “This is the safest lunch I have ever had. I feel very protected,” as he and his wife laughed.
Terry Velletta and her husband, Sal Velletta, were at the next table speaking with CMPD Officer Bob Phelps, with the department’s University City Division One, which is the area where they live.
They were discussing how the police are using social media to inform the public about issues that are happening in their neighborhoods. Phelps explained how the police were using such sites as nextdoor.com to send alerts and interact with residents.
Terry Velletta said she had learned about the Coffee With a Cop on that site, explaining that is why she and her husband came.
Kevin Rawlings was finishing his lunch when Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael stopped by his table to speak with him, his wife Sarah Rawlings, and friend, Jolene Fitzgerald. The couple live in his jurisdiction and had a few questions for him.
After the discussion, Carmichael gave each his card, telling them to feel free to call him if they had more questions.
“I enjoyed being able to talk with him and see how he feels about the community,” said Sarah Rawlings. “It reminds you that they are people just like us,” said Kevin Rawlings.
Marty Price is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to set up a Coffee With a Cop event at your business, church or other organization, email Sgt. Kevin Tatur at email@example.com