In an effort to strengthen community relations, the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department is hosting a series of community policing initiatives throughout 2022.
The department announced last week that it will offer events like Coffee with a Cop, Walk with a Cop and the Community Policing Academy to further engage with the community in “crisis-free situations.”
The first of these events, Coffee with a Cop, took place May 3 at the Los Gatos Civic Center, where residents could meet police officers over coffee to discuss their interests, concerns and ideas about the public security.
Community policing is “a framework for building trust, information sharing and transparency, and positive engagement between law enforcement and the community,” the department said.
Police departments across the country face a lack of trust from their communities. A 2021 national Gallup poll showed about 27% of black Americans and 56% of white Americans trusted the police. Those numbers are up from the record trust rating of 48% of all Americans in 2020, marking the first time in Gallup’s 27-year history that trust has dipped below 50%.
Police Chief Jamie Field returned to duty due to a shortage of dispatchers and several officer retirements earlier this year. She said in January that one of her top priorities as leader would be community engagement.
The department also has two golden labradoodles, Gary and JJ, for its canine therapy program. The dogs promote wellness in the department, are a resource for officers, and assist in trauma and mental health response and treatment, as well as community outreach and engagement.
The dogs will participate in several community events this year, including a session on May 16 at the Venture School.
The department will offer its first classroom-style community policing academy this fall to residents of Los Gatos and Monte Sereno, who can participate in presentations and demonstrations to learn more about the department.
Topics include patrol operations, arrest laws, investigations, case handling, traffic laws, communications, defensive tactics and de-escalation, and support services. The goal is to increase education and understanding between the community and the department.
From May through October, the department will host Walk with a Cop, which is modeled after the national program to bring police and community together in non-crisis situations.
“Walking through a neighborhood with community members, an officer can truly see the neighborhoods and business districts they are protecting and serving through the eyes and experiences of the community,” the department said in A press release. Any resident can register online for a walk with a police officer.