The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Police Officers gave students coffee, cookies and Cash in celebration of National Coffee With a Cop Day.
University Police participated in the fifth annual National Coffee with a Cop Day on Oct. 5. National Coffee with a Cop Day is “a day dedicated to encourage communication and positive interactions between law enforcement agencies and the public,” according to the official website. The mission of Coffee with a Cop is to break down barriers between police officers and citizens, which is a purpose that University Police echoed.
“We want to interact with students in as much of a positive way as we can,” said sergeant Nolan Conradt. “As law enforcement, unfortunately, the bulk of our contacts come in a negative light when we’re enforcing laws, policies, safety and things like that. So coming out here on National Coffee With A Cop Day or for any kind of event where we can interact with the university students, faculty and staff in a positive way, is a huge benefit to the police department and to the university community as a whole.”
This was the first time the university participated in Coffee with a Cop Day since 2019, due to COVID-19. The event jump-started the department’s efforts toward more on-campus outreach.
“We’re starting to ramp back up on events as staffing allows here on campus so Coffee with a Cop Day is our jumping point,” Conradt said. “Moving forward I think the plan is to try to do an event like this at least once a semester so we can continue to get out in the community.”
At the event, police officers interacted with students at the Nebraska Union and Nebraska East Union by offering coffee, cookies and Cash, who is the department’s new therapy dog.
“He draws people in,” said Officer Gary Etherton. “We like to have him available both within the department and while we’re out and about. He’s for our employees but also for people when we’re out on campus, at a booth or giving presentations.”
Bringing Cash to events helps the officers improve the approachability that they strive for. Officers spend time on campus, with and without Cash, getting to know students which helps students feel more comfortable reaching out.
“I’ve had people that say ‘hey, you know, I see all you the time and I don’t know whether I should call this in or not, but here’s this information,’” Etherton said. “Sometime’s it’s something big and other times, it’s not. But if they know you or they’re comfortable talking to you, then they’ll tell us about it.”
National Coffee with a Cop Day was another way for police officers to connect with students. Over cups of coffee, they had conversations about their majors and where they’re from and their hobbies. Students asked police officers questions about their jobs including the craziest and most wholesome things they’ve seen while on duty. One student even thanks an officer for helping her recover her stolen car six months ago.
“I thought it was great,” said Haley Sheets, a freshman advertising and public relations major. “I loved the free coffee and then we talked about how our classes are so far and we asked the officers if they went here and things like that.”
Overall, the event contributed to the University Police Department’s overarching goal to improve campus safety.
“Being more approachable and getting out on campus and advertising these events gives people the understanding that we are here for their safety,” Conradt said. “We’re here to be a full resource for the community. We’re open 24 hours a day, so if there’s a student that needs something at three o’clock in the morning, we are a great resource for that, and if we can’t help, we’ll direct them to the right place.”