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Sunday, June 16, 2024

'Coffee with a Cop' strengthens relationship between police, community in Gainesville

The initiative aimed to bring citizens closer to officers to express their concerns

<p>Gainesville Police Department officers talking with citizens at &quot;Coffee with a Cop&quot; on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. </p>

Gainesville Police Department officers talking with citizens at "Coffee with a Cop" on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. 

Among coffee and pleasant conversations with officers, citizens had the opportunity to learn more about them and connect for the betterment of the city.

This Wednesday, "Coffee with a Cop" took place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Mi Apa Latin Cafe and was organized by Tu Fiesta Radio, which broadcast live interviews with several Gainesville Police Department officers and residents and offered snacks. 

Nearly 50 participants attended, which included Gainesville City Commissioner Ed Book, the GPD SWAT team and GPD’s public spokesperson Brandon Hatzel.

GPD officers Miguel Pérez, 27, and Walter Parmentiere, 53, answered questions and talked with attendees. For them, opening a dialogue with the public is important.

“I am totally in favor, this is what it’s all about, it’s about relationships with the community,” Parmentiere said.

Esther Maldonado, 26, radio co-host, social media manager and graphic designer at Tu Fiesta Radio, said the two months of organizing the event were worth it.

“It was a process of different meetings to discuss what questions could be brought to the table so the community could benefit from that information,” Maldonado said. “It was all teamwork.”

Maldonado hopes events like this will foster enough trust for citizens to express their concerns directly to the officers, regardless of their immigration status.

GPD detective Pablo Figueroa, 42, is aware of the existing gap between police and citizens.

“That will always exist. We are constantly that figure of authority, not everyone likes that, and that is understandable,” he said.

However, Figueroa emphasized the importance of mutual trust. He expressed his satisfaction in being able to help people, regardless of their immigration status, to have a good quality of life.

“There has to be trust, understanding that we are not enemies,” Figueroa said.

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Elio Piedra, 32, founder and CEO of Tu Fiesta Radio, said the event fulfilled its purpose of creating a platform to amplify the voice of the Latino community.

“It is very important for us to create and share the real image of GPD, an image of a department that is here to serve and protect,” he said.

Collaboration between citizens and the police is crucial, he added, which is why this event seemed essential for the community.

“If there is no unity, there is no trust,” Piedra said.

Contact Jose Carmona at jcarmona@alligator.org. Follow him on X JD_CarmonaS.

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Jose Carmona

Jose Carmona is a third-year journalism major and a reporter and translator for El Caimán. Besides his role, he loves to hang out with his friends, watch any kind of sports and play video games with his cat on his lap.


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