P.A.R.C. Mag Issue #8 - Page 52

P.A.R.C. Mag: Can you tell us about yourself? Where did you grow up? Your educational background? When did you become a police officer and why?

Sgt. Cognac: "I'm 49 years old and I grew up in Torrance, California a city in Southern California near Los Angeles. I'm a United States Army Veteran, and I also used to be a television host for the Food Network. I became a police officer because honestly, I saw an ad when I had just gotten out of the military and I thought that it would be a good job. I wanted a job where I wasn't going to be stuck in an office all day. I wanted a career where I could engage people, so here I am, very happy that I made that choice."

P.A.R.C. Mag: We see that you are a Sergeant of the Community Affairs Unit. Can you explain what that is? What work have you done in that capacity?

Sgt. Cognac: "We do community engagement, run community events, operate several programs in sports. We actually have an ice hockey program for boys and girls and there is also a football program. We do community outreach, mentoring, and the traditional stuff like neighborhood watches and visit schools. I also serve as the liaison for the community where if they have questions they can call me, I'm very accessible. I handle the social media within the Hawthorne Police Department for our Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. I'm familiar with the subject matter of community policing, and I travel all over the country and teach that. There's only two of us doing this type of training and we also run a charity."

P.A.R.C. Mag: The idea of Coffee With A Cop was discovered through a brainstorming session in the Hawthorne Police Department, from there, how did it become implemented as a program?

Sgt. Cognac: "Programs start with ideas and in the police department we needed to do better. The police work across America has been handled the same general way. We looked at that and we also looked at the way police and communities communicate. Generally its been one way, we go talk at people or to people. So we came up with the idea that having a cup of coffee and talk with people. This was created to open or break down the barriers that are traditionally there. We've had town hall meetings where we have had a question and answer sessions it's not like that at all. It's a way to have frequently and honest barrier free conversations. My partner and I said hey why don't we go and have coffee at McDonald's and make ourselves known to the public, so we did and we realized we were waiting for people to come to us. That didn't work as well, so we had to go to the people and talk to them and it became very successful. Now Coffee With A Cop is in 13 countries and in four languages (English, French, Spanish, and Dutch)."

By: KC Loesener

We have seen a barrage of news stories that featured countless shootings of unarmed men and women. With tensions rising within communities between its citizens and the police departments, there seems like no end in sight. During a brainstorming session in California back in 2011, the Hawthorne Police Department came up with an idea. This idea later developed into a program designed to initiate conversations, re-establish trust and engage citizens. Coffee With A Cop is now in 50 US states, 13 countries and four languages (English, French, Spanish, and Dutch). We spoke with Sargent Chris Cognac of the Hawthorne PD who also serves as an officer of the law and a Community Liaison/Instructor for the program. He informed us of the program’s beginnings, success and where it’s headed. Coffee with A Cop is a great way to get police and community talking and make positive strides to open a better stream of communication between police officers and citizens. It also helps to quell the “us versus them” mentality. The ultimate goal is for communities and police departments to come together, put an end to senseless violence and establish proper community policing.