It’s a simple concept: police and community members come together in an informal, neutral space to discuss community issues, build relationships and drink coffee.

Dunwoody Police host “Coffee with a Cop” at Starbucks in Dunwoody, Georgia, August 18.

The Dunwoody Police Department hosted a “Coffee with a Cop” event from 8 to 10 a.m. on Aug. 18 at Starbucks in Dunwoody.

Police in more than 175 cities and towns in 36 states host “Coffee with a Cop” events that have done wonders for community trust, police legitimacy and partnership building.

Community members come to a local “Coffee with a Cop” event for a variety of reasons, but no matter why they come, police say they are likely to leave with a more positive impression of their local law enforcement agency.

“The crowd was great, a lot of people talked about neighborhood issues and quality-of-life issues, but were overall very supportive and complementary of the police department,” Officer Timothy Fecht said. “They also mentioned the impact that we have in social media; especially our Facebook page.”

Fecht said many of the people who attended, are followers on the department’s Facebook Page.

“They get up-to-date information about happenings in the city and the police department,” Fecht said.

One of the keys to “Coffee with a Cop’s” success is that it removes the physical barriers and crisis situations that routinely define interactions between law enforcement officials, and community members. Instead it allows for relaxed, informal one-on-one interactions in a friendly atmosphere. This informal contact increases trust in police officers as individuals, which police say is the foundation to building partnerships and engaging in community problem solving.