SMYRNA — Coffee has a way of bringing people together.
The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office sought to harness the power of conversations over coffee at Rev Coffee Roasters this week, connecting with the community and answering questions about their roles.
“It’s a different approach than us just coming to your house and speaking with you then,” said Sgt. Chase Hargraves. “It’s a more natural environment here.”
Deputy Raj Schelat said one of the main goals of the Coffee Connection event is to reach a mutual understanding between the officers who serve Cobb and the people they serve.
“As a law enforcement officer, it’s something that’s been important to me for my entire career,” Schelat said. “I feel like people have had this disconnect, and there’s a lot of division nowadays. We want to bridge the gap, and show them we’re normal people, too.”
Bernadette Lorenzo, a Smyrna resident, said she felt the gap was bridged after speaking with Deputy Diane Watts, a member of the Cobb Sheriff’s Community Engagement Team, at a back-corner table in Rev Coffee Roasters.
“I’ve just felt disconnected with the sheriff and the police department. My thing is to just stay away and be a good citizen,” Lorenzo said. “I was thinking, ‘How do I relate to them?’ … I just appreciate them taking the time to talk to the community.”
After passing out coloring books with sheriff’s badges and law enforcement scenes to young kids in Rev Coffee Roasters, Lt. Sylvia Robinson expressed excitement about the opportunity to link with Cobb community members.
“As law enforcement, we are a part of the community. We breathe, sweat, cry just like everybody else,” Robinson said. “Being out here helps us to connect with communities, and for them to not be scared of us, and know that we are one with them.”
Though Thursday’s engagement event was the first of its kind, Hargraves said the sheriff’s office is in the process of lining up visits to coffee shops across Cobb every other week to further integrate themselves into community life and connect with residents.
Stay tuned for dates to be announced. Meantime, the Sheriff’s Community Engagement Team will be engaging with the community at BASSH! 2021, sponsored by Piedmont Injury Law, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Swift-Cantrell Park in Kennesaw.