PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Jay and Bethany Pike talk with Patrolman Ryan Dulong, of the Lynn Police Department, meets with people at the Land of a Thousand Hills cafe on Munroe Street in on Saturday.
By MICHELE DURGIN
LYNN — Eva Yeno, a West African native and Lynn resident, was curious about the “Coffee With A Cop” event and stopped by the Land of A Thousand Hills cafe to check it out.
“Talks like this help people trust each other more and that’s needed,” said the Lynn Classical senior. “I am going to encourage people at school to come to next month’s meeting and I hope everyone who attends spreads the word that the police are here to help us.”
Five years ago, police officers in Hawthorne, Calif., hosted the first “Coffee With A Cop” gathering to improve relations between law enforcement and the community.
Today, there are programs in all states. The Lynn Police Department held its third discussion at the coffee shop on Munroe Street.
The event attracted fewer than a half dozen people and a few declined to comment. The participants speculated the session wasn’t publicized enough and perhaps schools should be asked to promote it in the fall.
The shop’s manager, Abigail Cissel, 22, said it’s important to provide a comfortable place for police and residents to meet and hopes it becomes more popular.
“This is a great way to create better dialogue between the police and the citizens of Lynn,” she said. “The program is scheduled to be held here on the last Saturday of each month and I hope the word spreads and it grows and grows.”
Patrolman Ryan Dulong, 36, the officer selected to participate in this month’s program, has been on the police force for 11 years.
“Building better relationships within the community is important,” he said. “Everyone benefits when we share ideas and concerns.”
Emily Urbina, 25, Drop in Center director of The Haven Project, a nonprofit program dedicated to helping the homeless, said the gathering can become a city resource.
“This is an awesome opportunity for local citizens to get to know police in a more personal way,” she said. “Lynn police do a terrific job of working with the public and makes a special effort to include the younger members of the community.”
Much of the discussion between Dulong and the residents centered around crime, relationship building and homelessness.
While Lynn’s overall crime rate fell by 6.4 percent from 2013 to 2014, the most recent data available from crime-data.com, the city has a perception that it is unsafe.
Attendees agreed that these important issues need to be addressed more frequently and by all Lynn residents.