Oxford Police Department worked to build connections in the community Thursday night at Fill-Up with Billups at their annual Coffee with a Cop event.
OPD sees the event each year as a way to address students and citizens’ law enforcement questions and to put names behind the badges and make positive connections. Officers said the event is always a success because it fosters a more community-based police force.
“The event is always good because it gives an insight to the community and allows us to answer any questions,” Sergeant Craig Baker said. “The event also helps us because it allows us to be open and understand what’s going on in the community.”
Baker also shared his approach to policing and community-building. He said forming relationships can be challenging because Oxford has grown so much and has such a diverse community with different age demographics.
“There are two different groups of people in Oxford,” Baker said. “You have college students and regular citizens. We have to be able to reach both groups on a positive level and make connections with them. We have Twitter to reach the college students and interact with them. Then, we have other events like (Coffee with a Cop) to reach the other citizens.”
Oxford resident Larry Agostinelli came out to ask a few questions about neighborhood patrolling and window tinting. He saw the event advertised and saw several of his friends were also attending the event. He wanted to know why the “tinting laws have changed” and why the enforcement of the law has changed.
Officer Johnny Sneed told Agostinelli the enforcement had changed because the court system ruled the past method of enforcement was not acceptable anymore. Sneed told him they try to regulate tint some, but it’s usually “left up to the Mississippi Highway Patrol.”
Fill-Up with Billups manager Claudia Billups said she was happy OPD reached out and grateful they wanted to host the event there.
“It’s exciting to have the police officers host there event here,” Billups said. “This is the first time we’ve had the event at the restaurant, and I hope they host it here again next year because we love getting involved in the community.”
The police department usually does the event during the morning, but this year held the event at 6 p.m. to try something different. There wasn’t a lot of participation from the community with the new time, so the officers said they will probably change the time back to the morning next year.
Baker, chief officer of the downton area, said the police department and the city are discussing the future of law enforcement of the Oxford Square and the future of the police department. The department is also still considering the futures of “drivers license scanners and designated areas for taxis, Ubers and Lyfts.”
Baker said the police department is currently in the process of adding additional surveillance cameras in the Square and updating current ones to “have better video quality.”
He also said that while parking on the Square will be difficult while the parking garage is being constructed, the community will have to get used to the difference. Baker said he thinks the “parking garage is a great idea.”