March 05. 2014 8:38PM

Milford police officers want to meet you for coffee

Union Leader Correspondent

MILFORD — A cup of coffee and some conversation may be just the ticket for helping folks get to know members of the Milford Police Department, and on Friday morning, the police are buying.

According to Sgt. Matthew Fiffield, the department will host its first “Coffee with a Cop” program at McDonald’s on Nashua Street from 9 to 11 a.m. In attendance will be several of Milford’s finest, who will be available to answer questions, hear concerns, or just enjoy a good, casual conversation on a cold winter day.

“Ultimately, I hope the public will leave McDonald’s Friday morning feeling like they know our officers on a more personal, human level, and I think they’ll see we share a lot of common ground,” said Fiffield.

The Milford Police Department has placed a strong emphasis on community policing and in recent years, Fiffield has been working to develop and promote programs like the Citizens Police Academy as well as drug awareness classes, designed to help forge connections between the police and public through education and understanding.

“So, in that ‘thinking outside the box’ vein, we saw this as an opportunity to learn more about this new program,” said Fiffield, “and once we did we knew that this was a program we wanted to initiate in Milford.”

The “Coffee with a Cop” program was brought to Milford’s attention by the Department of Justice, which endorsed the program as an effective community policing tool, Fiffield said.

“We felt that with our forward-thinking and creative officers, and the improved relationship we have been building with our residents over the past couple of years, we could try this relatively unknown (in this area) program and make it a success,” Fiffield said.

The event is designed to level the playing field by bringing officers and the public together as peers who share a common desire for a safer community.

“It is my goal that the officers will get to know more of our citizens on a personal level, as well as have the opportunity to engage with them in a more informal setting than they are used to,” Fiffield said.

By creating those connections, police officers can earn the trust, confidence and even friendship of residents who will be more willing to report trouble to police if they see it or to seek help from the police if they need it.

“As for the public, I hope they will take advantage of this great opportunity to meet with our officers on neutral ground, in the informal, comfortable setting at McDonald’s,” Fiffield said, “and that they will hopefully enjoy an agenda-free, soapbox-free couple of hours just asking questions and getting to know our officers, all over coffee, which everyone loves.”