GARY | Approximately 60 members of the Indiana University Northwest campus and surrounding communities took advantage of the “Coffee with a Cop” event at the campus cafeteria Tuesday.
Chief Patricia Nowak of the Indiana University Police Department-Northwest (IUPD-NW) said she was thrilled with the turnout for the inaugural meet-and-greet, in which officers engaged in informal conversation, providing campus and community members the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the department’s work, both on the IU Northwest campus, as well as in the community, most specifically in Gary, Ind.
Those who attended said they appreciated the opportunity to interact with the officers. The conversations touched on such topics as careers in law enforcement, the desire for more citizens’ and kids’ police academies, and the IUPD-NW’s involvement in patrolling the University Park area immediately surrounding campus.
Overall, Nowak said the folks she chatted with expressed satisfaction with their safety and security on campus, appreciate the department’s presence immediately surrounding the campus and feel the officers are friendly and approachable.
“It is important that the campus, and community, have an awareness of what we do, and how we serve,” Nowak said. “Building relationships builds trust.”
A commitment to community engagement efforts, such as Coffee with a Cop, have become more greatly embedded into the mission of IUPD-NW since Chief Nowak joined the squad in July 2012.
Similar community-based efforts include the Citizens’ Police Academy, the Youth Citizens’ Police Academy, and the annual Shop with a Cop program, among others.
“The concept of community policing efforts is to build trust with our constituents,” Nowak said. “The IUPD-NW sees great value in getting to know, and serving the needs of not only the IU Northwest campus, but also the citizens of Northwest Indiana.”
The meet-and-greet was one of several such gatherings that are taking place nationwide as part of a U.S. Department of Justice initiative. Because of the high turnout and valuable information gleaned from the event, Chief Nowak anticipates hosting more meet-and-greet events in the future.