Police Learn About Neighborhood Issues

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Could a free cup of coffee lead to solving problems in your neighborhood?

Harrisonburg police met with the community Monday morning for the second Coffee with a Cop event.

This time around officers say that a cup of coffee has led to people sharing about a number of concerns including neighborhood issues as well as shoplifting issues.

Sharoze Shaikh, a sales associate at Sprint in the Valley Mall said he's seen people leaving stores with bad intentions.

"Shoplifters that will just run out of the mall and there are times when they're caught and sometimes they kind of get away," explained Shaikh, "The person that did the embezzling over here at the kiosk. They confronted them. They asked them questions."

Master David Puffenbarger is assigned to the Valley Mall area of Harrisonburg as part of geo-policing, "We've encountered a lot of thefts here in the city especially around the Valley Mall."

He said having a substation in the mall and being able to respond so quickly could decrease shoplifting.

Other people shared common complaints, looked at displays or thanked officers.

"They're not the bad guys that some people think they are," said George Hamel, a Harrisonburg resident.

"The noise issues and some residents talking about parking issues and things like that. Driving, a lot of driving complaints. People driving too fast in neighborhoods," said Chief Stephen Monticelli.

The first Coffee with a Cop event tackled aggressive panhandling in the downtown area. Since then, a new ordinance is in place and time will tell how effective it is.

"Still a little early to tell if that 's going to rectify the problem completely," said Monticelli.

Still, officers hope talking will lead to solving more problems before they become too big.

When asked about Cpl. Bryan Horowitz's recent DUI charge and holding officers accountable, Monticelli said it is being taken very seriously and it is a personnel matter.


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