The UK Police Department hosted its annual Coffee with a Cop event this Wednesday, where it invited UK students and community members to visit with officers and contribute feedback.
The event, which took place in the UK Bookstore, offered students an opportunity to interact with the UKPD by voicing their concerns and getting to know officers.
“We’re here to serve the university community, so we want to make sure that people can put a face with our name and our department so they can have that personal relationship,” Police Operations Captain Evan Ramsay said. “We... foster those relationships [so] that people feel comfortable coming and talking to us... if anything should ever happen to them and they need our services.”
“If anybody has any questions to ask us, they can do that anytime, but this just opens it up to the general public to come and ask questions,” Officer Andy Eilertson added.
The UKPD hosts Coffee with a Cop at least once a year to "develop rapport with the community," according to Eilertson. Past events have taken place in different campus locations, such as the William T. Young Library, while others have specifically highlighted UKPD’s LGBTQ+ liaisons and relations with the LGBTQ+ community. In each context, the department uses feedback from students, faculty and staff to determine how to maximize student safety.
“From this, we get a lot of wants and needs,” Eilertson said. “We [hear], ‘Hey, we’d like to have more training on this, we’d like to see more of this’... and, ‘Hey, can you come teach them LiveSafe?’ Things come and go over the years.”
“We’ve talked about Citizens Police Academy, the STAR program, SafeCats [and] anything that they want to talk about,” Ramsey said. “We make ourselves available to be there for them... and answer any questions the best we can.”
The event usually coincides with National Coffee with a Cop Day, the first Wednesday in October. However, this year’s event had to be rescheduled due to police services being needed elsewhere.
“There’s a lot of things we had commitments to in October [and a] lot of people traveling out of state,” Eilertson added. “Yeah, we could have thrown something together... [but] we want to put our best foot forward.”
The event allows the UKPD to connect with the entire community, and both officers and non-officers look forward to seeing it grow in the future. Mandi Banahan, UKPD’s PR and marketing specialist, said she looks forward to improving future events.
“This is [actually] my first Coffee with a Cop,” Banahan said. “I just started in the marketing department, so this event will be my new little baby to... make better.”
“We can’t serve our community unless we’re involved in the community,” Saylor said. “This is just... one snippet of a lot of things we do where we have given back into our community. We are active... and we’re trying to build relationships.”