HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- One Valley police department is finding a new way to walk the beat using a different approach to protecting our communities.
"It was a good time, they're very friendly and fun to get to know," said Amanda Monger who owns Downtown Wine and Gourmet and joined officers for a cup of coffee Wednesday morning.
The informal setting is a way for people to feel comfortable with police.
"Sometimes they can be intimidating, but this is a great way to meet them personally and drink coffee together and realize they're just other citizens like I am," said Monger.
Officers hope that a simple cup of coffee will lead to a conversation and allow people in the community to address any concerns they may have.
Concerns that Harrisonburg Police Chief Stephen Monticelli is now aware of.
"We've got an issue of aggressive panhandling that we were not really aware of. But, people approaching people getting in cars and stuff, that, there's that fear of people walking towards them when they don't know what's going on," said Monticelli.
Part of geographical policing, which assigns officers to a specific area in the community is building relationships and it's also a way to meet officers one-on-one.
"It's a two-way street. Making the officers feel like they're a bigger part of the community," said Monticelli.
And some business owners said that plugging into that community will make our streets safer.
"They've just been an incredible resource for helping us grow. Not only the safety of downtown, but also the image of safety downtown because perception can be a real issue," said David Miller, the co-owner of You Made It! Studio.
This is the first time Coffee with a Cop has been held in Harrisonburg and dozens of people showed up.
Monticelli said they want to do it every few months.
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