Petal school police to hold coffee with a cop

By HASKEL BURNS,

The Petal School District Police Department is reaching out to students – and other law enforcement agencies – with a little coffee and conversation.

The department will hold its third annual Coffee With a Cop event from 8-8:30 a.m. December 13 in the Petal High School Library, affectionately known as “The Den.” The event will be hosted by Panther Brew, the library’s on-site coffee/refreshment shop.

“It’s just an interaction with the kids,” School Police Chief Gavin Guy said. “We get students in here and try to build that rapport and relationship with them, with the teachers and the students.

“Hopefully, it builds on that relationship between the law enforcement and the community and students.”

The event is open to all students, staff and teachers, and law enforcement from other local agencies are expected to be in attendance. Participants will be treated to a complimentary cup of coffee and a sweet treat, and can ask questions or address concerns with the police officers.

“In the morning, my kids have the coffee shop, but then you have other students who get here and hang out in the library – they visit, they talk and some of them bring their breakfast in here,” said Paige Hutchinson, community-based teacher at the high school. “They’ve redone the library this year, so it’s more conducive to hanging out.

“It’s more of a like a student union-type area, so by the time the bell rings in here, it’s full. So it is a great area to build those relationships, so you have that between the student body and the law enforcement and the faculty. I’m looking forward to it.”

Guy said officials saw a decent turnout for the first year of the event, followed by an even bigger attendance at the second event.

“This one’s going to be a lot bigger,” he said. “I’m expanding it and I’m inviting the surrounding counties to come, and I think we’ll have a good turnout.

“I want it to not just be us police standing together – I want to go and talk to the kids. We want to get the kids talking to us, and show them that they can trust us.”