SANTA BARBARA – The Santa Barbara Police Department’s “Coffee with a Cop” is getting kudos from the officer who started the national program. However, it’s also getting a smirk from a writer with Time Magazine.The Santa Barbara program is being recognized as a model for “Coffee with a Cop” even after only three sessions. Sgt. Chris Cognac with the Hawthorne Police Department told KEY News, “They’ve done it exactly what it should be. It moves to different communities and residents can talk about whatever they want to talk about.”Thursday’s informal “think tank” at ‘The Good Cup’ on the Santa Barbara Mesa brought up concerns similar to past meetings. Concerns such as neighbor disputes, theft and vandalism.Merel Betz said he is upset because someone kicked his dog, “Just having uniformed police around, foot patrol, I’m not a fascist but I think it’s necessary.”And so does Police Chief Cam Sanchez. He said residents and officers love the program because it brings back the basics of communication. Sanchez relates a question asked to him by a local first grader: Do officers have legs? “From the mouths of babes, we need to get out of the police car and listen.””Coffee with a Cop” is now held in 15-states, and is expanding.It originated in Hawthorne, and caught the attention of journalist Joel Stein, who writes a column for Time Magazine, “The whole thing makes me appreciate having nice neighbors.” Stein said he finds it humorous that more than a dozen cops would stand around listening to seemingly banal complaints. However, he admitted, “The thing is, all these issues don’t seem bad until they happen to you.”You can read Stein’s column about our local program in the mid-January edition of Time.Watch Beth Farnsworth’s story tonight on KEY News.
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