JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In an effort to improve the relationship between police officers and community members, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office held its seventh "Coffee with a Cop" event Tuesday morning.
The event at the Chick-fil-A on San Jose at Oak Bluff in Mandarin was already planned before the recent high-profile police shootings and the deaths of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Dozens of community members from all over Duval County came to meet the men and women behind the badge and voice their concerns over a cup of coffee.
“We're all people. This is their job but their job is 24 hours a day,” Sandra Overton said. “It gives us an opportunity to get to know them and get a name with the badge.”
After what’s happened in the past couple of weeks some wanted to stop by to show the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office that they care.
Deborah Mclaughlin brought balloons that said "Thank you" and "Praying for you."
“I just think it's so important to support them right now with all that's going on, and what's happening,” Mclaughlin said. “A thank you is just so little for what we can do.”
JSO said the events are modeled after successful Coffee with a Cop programs in other areas. Officers said there are no agendas and no speeches; just an opportunity for people to come and talk to officers over a cup of coffee.
“We are police officers,” JSO spokesman Officer Christian Hancock said. “We chose this career for a reason. We have to do things in our job we don't necessarily like. We have to take people to jail and take their civil liberties from them.”
About a dozen officers were at Tuesday's coffee meeting. The Sheriff's Office said it will continue to host more events like this one throughout Jacksonville with plans to improve community relationships one cup of coffee at a time.
“We've had people walk in the door and say, 'I don't like police,' and they want to change that,” JSO spokeswoman Officer Melissa Bujeda said.