Scarborough Police Department held its third Coffee with a Cop event on Jan. 17 at Scarborough Grounds. Residents were invited to have civil discussions with the officers. Catherine Bart/Leader

SCARBOROUGH — Police officers are initiating community discussion over cups of coffee at an event known as “Coffee with a Cop” that encourages civility between the public and Scarborough law enforcement officers.

On Jan. 17 at Scarborough Grounds, the police department chatted with citizens about concerns and successes about safety in town.

Community Resource Sgt. Steven Thibodeau said that the Scarborough Police Department is following a national trend, trying to bring community members together once every other month.

“I think it’s probably because society right now seems to be fractured, and I think in order for us to be more civil, we need to get together with our community to have civility and this type of event does just that,” he said. “Sometimes law enforcement can disrupt society if you’re not happy with what they do. So if we can sit and talk and have a civil conversation about some disagreements, I think that works really well.”

Thibodeau said that one of the biggest issues Scarborough faces is traffic.

“We are really growing as a community,” he said, “and as long as we can provide the same amount of service that we can provide now within that growth, I think that’s a good thing, but we’ll probably at some point have to hire more police officers. That happens everywhere, I think.”

He gave examples of some topics that residents have talked about during the event.

“A big one right now is our public safety building,” he said. “It’s a large building. It’s expensive. We knew that going into the ask, if you will, but was due. We’d grown out of our old station. They’ve built a new station that will provide us a home for the next 25 years. That’s just the way it is.

“People talk about how safe they feel in Scarborough, which is always very comforting for us. Our chief is here, our deputy chief so we like that people are happy with police services in our town.”

Thibodeau said that some people have brought up concerns that are new to him.

“Well, I just talked to a lady this morning who wants to talk to the ordinance committee about fireworks,” he said. “Although every Fourth of July we hear about the fireworks and the violations that occur, but she was more concerned about the debris that comes from lighting off fireworks and she found debris on her car. And she would like to curb the ordinance so that doesn’t happen.”

The police department is also trying to reach every neighborhood in Scarborough, said Thibodeau. He and Sgt. Don Laflin are visiting community centers to host discussions on safety concerns, like cyber security and identity theft.

“In August there’s a nationwide, national night out,” Thibodeau said. “That’s another event where we try to get the community out and enjoy the relationship between the police department and the community. That’s more fun-ish, where we have kids and food and balloons.”

The Scarborough Police Department’s Facebook page shares information about upcoming Coffee with a Cop events. Thibodeau said that he hopes to host one at a Starbucks next.

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