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Interim police chief holds virtual Coffee with Cop

Suffolk Interim Police Chief Al Chandler held a virtual Coffee with a Cop event Wednesday, with more than 50 people tuning in to the 20-minute Facebook Live session.

While no one chose to ask a question during the event, Chandler said the Suffolk Police Department wants people to feel they can approach the police and speak with them.

“Even though we’re physically distant, we can still be virtually connected,” Chandler said. “So that was the reason that we decided to do this virtually. And we want you to feel like you can come to us. If you see an officer on the street, if you see an officer in a car, wave us down, flag us down. Say hello. Ask us a question.”

Two other officers also participated in the virtual event — Officer Ginet Diggs, who is part of the department’s special operations unit and a school resource officer, and Lt. Chad Hooker, a special operations lieutenant.

Each outlined their role with the department, while Chandler explained the reason for holding Coffee with a Cop events.

Chandler said he wanted to find out what people wanted to know about the police department.

“This is a department that is focused and dedicated on law enforcement excellence through a partnership with our community,” Chandler said. “And a lot of that partnership has to do with us understanding each other. We want you to see us as the officers of this city, as not just the law and not just the government, we want you to see us as your friends, your neighbors, your relatives.”

He praised the school resource officer program as a way for officers to connect with young  people in the city.

“We are not just in the school,” Chandler said. “We’re a part of the school. We are in with the students. … We realize those relationships are invaluable.”

Chandler outlined the Virginia Rules program, an educational program Suffolk Police officers use to help students, parents and instructors understand laws that apply to teenagers and their everyday lives.

Diggs said she talks to kids in her role as a school resource officer. She said a lot of them believe what they see in the media and see crime idolized. She wishes parents could come into her classes, because they don’t always know the resources that are out there for them.

“I do go into the schools and inform them on how certain things (crime) … are idolized but in reality, it could mess up their future,” Diggs said.

Chandler said it is important for every part of the city’s population to feel like they are being taken care of.

“We don’t want any population in our city to feel like this police department is not theirs,” Chandler said, “because this is your police department.”

He said the department does important work for those who are mentally challenged. He said officers have either crisis intervention training or mental health/first aid training.

The training, he said, helps officers in aiding the mentally challenged during a moment of crisis, as well as provides resources to take care of them in a more holistic way.

He and Hooker talked about the department’s search and rescue and marine patrol teams to help people who are distressed.

Chandler wrapped up by asking residents to contact himself or other officers to engage with them. He acknowledged the department doesn’t always get everything perfect, but they endeavor to keep residents safe.

“We are very focused on community engagement,” Chandler said. “And one of the things that’s very important to us is remembering the fact that our success comes a lot from the relationship we have with our citizens.”