Milford residents have coffee with the cops

MILFORD – There were several police officers in the Milford McDonald’s Restaurant one morning recently, but no crime in sight.

Instead, the officers were chatting with retired folks, mothers and kids, all kinds of people, about sports, the weather, whatever.

They were there March 7 for the town’s first Coffee with a Cop, a new Milford Police Department program, designed to improve communication with townspeople.

Among those they talked with was Nancy Fairchild and her husband, Charles. They come to the Nashua Street restaurant every day, Nancy said, and this day, they talked to one of the officers about hockey.

Coffee with a Cop is a Department of Justice initiative, said Milford Police Chief Michael Viola, who sent Sgt. Matthew Fiffield to Hawthorne, Calif., a city that started its Coffee with a Cop program three years ago.

Fiffield attended the two-day class with 35 other police officers from all over New England. One important thing they learned about hosting a successful event, he said, was to hold a Coffee with a Cop in a restaurant, not in Town Hall or the police station, because a place like McDonald’s tends to make people feel more comfortable.

“When it’s in a small coffee shop, it’s perceived as their ground, and we’re just guests,” he said.

Chris Robinson, of Christmas Tree Lane, was there and said he is already somewhat familiar with some of the police officers and the working of the police department because he is part of his Neighborhood Watch program.

“There’s definitely power in educating yourself about how the town and the officers work,” he said.

Later, Capt. Stephen Toom called the event “a huge success. We made some great new friends.”