Community members are invited this month to meet in an informal, neutral space with Astoria Police officers to discuss local issues, build relationships and drink coffee.

The “Coffee with a Cop” program will take place at 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at Peter Pan Market at 712 Niagara Ave.

The program provides a unique opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department’s work in neighborhoods, according to police.

The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building with the community, police say, and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street.

“Coffee with a Cop” breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.

The program is a national initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Similar events are being held across the county. The program aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and community members one cup of coffee at a time.

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