LAUSD school police join this week’s Coffee with a Cop
Mike Szymanski | October 2, 2017
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The new community outreach plan uses social media to get the word out about the events starting Wednesday. The unique idea of police officers sitting down with community members over coffee captured the attention of LA’s school police, so they’re trying it out to connect with parents, students, teachers, and members of the community near local schools.
“We don’t really know what to expect, but we are looking forward to it,” said school police public information officer Sgt. Julie Spry.
On Wednesday, from 7 to 9 a.m., about six or seven school officers plan to be at Undergrind Cafe at 2713 S. Robertson Blvd.
On Thursday, from 7 to 9 a.m., about eight or nine officers are scheduled to show up get their morning caffeine boost at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at 10612 National Blvd.
Billed as a conversation with no agenda and no speeches, the officers plan to answer questions and concerns about schools and safety or whatever people want to talk about. It is a way to get to know the officers.
For the past year and a half, the school police have dished out ice cream at district schools with some of the same objectives. This is a more informal style held out in the community.
“The conversations include all kinds of things,” Spry said. “We talk about going to college, respecting authority, parents, enjoying life, all kinds of things will come up.”
Recent events including the Las Vegas shooting and school safety could also come up this week.
The first two events are in West Los Angeles and are geared more toward the elementary and middle schools in the area, but Spry said the department plans to have a specific meeting geared toward the high schools in the area, such as Hamilton High School, at upcoming times.
“It is a good way to find out what is on the minds of the community, and we may add more events,” Spry said.
Mandatory random wanding and backpack searches — which are not handled by school police and are usually conducted by teachers — have not been brought up at past ice cream community gatherings, Spry said. That has been a hot-button issue at school board meetings.
The Coffee with a Cop idea was launched locally in Hawthorne in 2011 as police looked for ways to successfully interact with the public. Since then, the idea has spread to all 50 states and internationally to Canada, Australia, Europe, and Africa. New police departments continue to join — like LA Unified’s, which is the largest school police force in the country — and are kicking off their morning joe with their communities on the unified national day of Oct. 4.
Future meetings will be scheduled on the LA School Police Facebook page at facebook.com/LASchoolPolice.