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Coffee with a Cop: Fort Rucker’s finest connect with community

Randy Danford, Fort Rucker firefighter, puts his fire helmet on Lily Castillo, Army Family member, as she and her mother, Grisel, look at the fire truck during Coffee with a Cop at the Bowden Terrace Neighborhood Center March 26. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Randy Danford, Fort Rucker firefighter, puts his fire helmet on Lily Castillo, Army Family member, as she and her mother, Grisel, look at the fire truck during Coffee with a Cop at the Bowden Terrace Neighborhood Center March 26. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: April 3, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 3, 2014) -- Fort Rucker’s finest suited up and jumped at the chance to learn more about what’s going on in their community, as well as to let people know they’re there to help.

The Directorate of Public Safety teamed with Corvias Military Housing to host Coffee with a Cop at the Bowden Terrace Neighborhood Center March 26 as a means to better serve its community.

“Anytime we can get a chance to talk with the public here on Fort Rucker is a good thing because we don’t know what we don’t (hear about),” said Marcel Dumais, Fort Rucker chief of police. “There are things that are happening on post that we might not be aware of that are concerns for the general public, and it’s great that we find out what those concerns are, so that we can focus on our police work and put what we’re doing toward that goal.”

Participants enjoyed complimentary coffee and donuts while they chatted with Fort Rucker’s police officers and first responders about issues that they run into in their daily lives. McGruff, the crime dog, and Sparky, the fire dog, were also on hand to great children and create a welcoming environment for Families.

“I think it’s really nice that they’re taking the time out of their day if we have questions we need answered,” said Grisel Castillo, Army spouse. “People complain about stuff all the time, and it’s really good that we have this opportunity to actually interact with (police officers and first responders). They’re just regular people like us.”

Some of the issues that Castillo, who has a daughter, Lily, and another child on the way, brought up during her time at the event were about speeding drivers throughout the neighborhoods, especially during times when there are children outside. She also inquired about seeing children riding bicycles and being outdoors during evening hours without proper supervision or safety gear.

“I just wanted to know who we could contact to make sure (our children) are safe,” said Castillo. “I think this is helpful for the community because it’s nice to know exactly what you can do rather than just what random people say you should do. This is a good way to get real answers.”

Dumais said other concerns people voiced involved loud noises in the neighborhoods at night, dogs and pets, and other questions regarding housing area policies, which were able to be answered by Corvias staff.

“This is a great partnership with Corvias and the Directorate of Public Safety because this is a great opportunity to bring awareness to the issues, and it’s a chance for our community members to connect with our police officers and first responders,” said Lisa Patrick, Corvias Military Housing resident relations manager. “When residents have a relationship with their community, it makes them feel safer, more open to engage, and at the end of the day it’s just going to help improve their quality of life.”

The quality of life starts by making residents feel at safe and at home in their communities, added Dumais, and getting to know Fort Rucker’s finest is a step in the right direction.

“The people that we have working here at DPS are truly public servants – that’s why we’re here and we understand our role,” said the chief of police. “We’re here to make sure that the public feels safe within the Fort Rucker community. I hope that with these events that we’re doing that people know that they can stop us an any time and talk to us, and we will try and give them an answer to their question.”

He said part of the goal is to help break the barriers and stigma attached with law enforcement, and help people realize that they should want to talk to the police and first responders.

“People might think that we’re a bit stand-offish, or that they can’t come up to us and talk to us, but I don’t think that could be further from the truth,” said Dumais. “We’re very approachable …  and hopefully, over time, people realize that we are people just like they are, and we’re here to help them.”

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/123291/

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