For the Richmond Police Department, keeping the city and its inhabitants out of harm’s way is paramount, but according to Rodney Richardson, RPD’s assistant chief, being actively involved in community outreach is another notch listed high on the priority list.
“We work for the community and, without the community, we don't exist,” Richardson said. “We have to have a partnership or it won’t work.”
One event that RPD hosts to engage with community members is Coffee with a Cop, where cops pick a location to have coffee to let residents meet their officers, and talk to them face-to-face.
“It gives the community a chance to talk with police one-on-one and gives them a time to express issues and concerns they have and maybe come to a solution,” he said.
A repeat event, the Richmond police host the coffee gathering around once every quarter at different locations to reach a higher volume of people, “so everyone can feel like a part of it.”
This Saturday, Coffee with a Cop event will be held from 9-11 a.m. at Dominion Senior Living Home in Richmond where they will serve complimentary coffee and refreshments.
“It allows members of our community to have one-on-one contact with law enforcement when we aren’t in a law enforcement act,” Richardson said.
Richardson also talked about co-hosting the first Farmers Market Block Party alongside the Madison County Health Department and Madison County Farmers Market on Thursday, July 18 from 3-6 p.m.
“We have a very good relationship with the health department and they invited us to and we did,” he said. “We work with them really closely.”
The event will feature a farmers market, live music, the Street Eatz bus feeding kids, face painting and games.
“We usually have a good turn out to these kind of events,” Richardson said. “The officers enjoy it just as much as the kids and like the Coffee with a Cop, it gives kids the opportunity the chance to meet and talk with an officer to get to know them.
RPD is also one of many first responder agencies in the county that is participating with the First Responders Build, where first responders help raise money and build a home for a family in the community.
Just last month, agencies and the family receiving the home gathered for the blessing of the foundation. According to Richardson, the volunteers are moving the walls to the foundation site to start putting those up.
“It’s a long process, but it is going great,” he said.
Richardson said that doing all of these events and being invested in the community is a way to show that the police are just like everyone else.
“We eat at the same places, shop the same stores and live here too,” he said. “We are apart of the same community. We need the people as much as they need us and I believe that if we work together we can accomplish anything, I really do…
"We have a good relationship with our community and we are going to keep it that way. There is a culture in this department that cares about the community and wants to do everything they can for everyone.”’
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.