Gulfport’s Coffee with a Cop community outreach program is teaming up with councilmembers for regular meetings thanks to a new effort that started with Vice Mayor Christine Brown.
In June, Brown contacted Community Policing Officer Zack Mills and suggested that she and other councilmembers join with him during even-numbered months.
“It brings people from the community together so they can talk to Zack and ask questions of a councilmember,” said Brown. “If someone is having difficulty, we can see if there is any way that we can help them. We can also get their ideas about things they’d like to do in the community.”
Brown suggested the new venue be Scout Hall, 5315 28th Ave. S., which is a city-owned building.
“Who does not love Scout Hall?” she said. “It’s a beautiful place. It looks and feels like the 50s and it’s well maintained. It’s a venue that doesn’t get used as often as it should.”
They also used recyclable coffee cups and wooden stirrer sticks – no plastic straws, said Brown. “We’ve got the whole set up.”
Members of the Community Emergency Response Team, led by Gulfport Volunteer Coordinator James W. Wright were also present to answer questions about services such as Protech DNA for people who wish to protect and have a better chance of recovering their stolen valuables.
Spring and summer means snowbird residents in the area have returned north so attendance is “not going to be as busy. We understand that,” said Mills. “But, so far, things are going great.”
For variety, he said that locations for the meeting could change.
“We can do it anywhere like at a beach pavilion, Scout Hall or, like in the past, at a local coffee shop,” said Mills “Anywhere is great. We want it to have a community feel.”
On Saturday, October 6 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., the Coffee with a Cop meeting will be held at the Gulfport Lions Club and will feature co-sponsor Councilmember Paul Ray. The club is located at 460 Tifton Drive South.
From 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with a serving of scrambled eggs, link sausage and orange juice will be offered by the Lions as a fundraiser for a donation of $7 per adult with children under 12 eating for half price. Coffee and conversation at the Coffee with a Cop meetings are always free.
In December, the plan is to move the meeting back to Scout Hall featuring co-sponsors Mills and Mayor Sam Henderson, said Brown.
“We want a councilmember here just to be able to represent the government and to see if there are any questions, comments, concerns or ideas that people have,” said Brown. “Getting to know people is a big thing.”
At the Saturday, August 11 meeting, Brown said, “There’s people here I’ve never met before and I’m excited about that.”
Brown’s hope is to have a councilmember at each meeting.
If needed, “I’ll be happy to do them all,” she said. And, she hinted, the next time she co-hosts a meeting, there “might be some homemade carrot cake.”
Being a team with councilmembers “is a great way to build relationships in the community,” said Mills. “And, it’s a great way for people to get their concerns addressed in their neighborhoods. We can help out.”
For announcements about meeting times, venues and co-sponsors, visit the police department’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Gulfport-Florida-Police-Department-136659036386535.