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December 18, 2015

Philly police serve up coffee with a side of community contact

'We want to let the community know that we are here to support them,' said Tina Staley-Bailey, a victims assistance officer in the 5th District

Police Community Policing
coffee cops Hayden Mitman/for PhillyVoice

Officers from the city's 5th police district, including the district's victims assistance officer Tina Staley-Bailey as well as Officers Valerie Streets and Erika Davis, met with local residents at Winnie's LeBus, a cafe in Manayunk, on Friday morning.

As the rain fell Friday morning on Main Street in Manayunk, local residents and business owners mingled with the men and women who patrol their streets every day.

"Coffee with a Cop," a laid-back event, was an opportunity for the community to meet face-to-face with officers in the city's 5th District, including the district's new captain, John Moroney, who took over in October after serving in the city's 12th District. 

"It's great to get to know the community and find out what's going on," said Moroney. "I've learned a lot of people really care about this community." 

"This is community policing at its best," said resident Joshua Cohen. "It just makes the 5th District a better place to live, work and play." 

Such events, the officers said, allow them to combat negative perceptions some in the community may have about police. 

"We want to let the community know that we are here to support them," said Tina Staley-Bailey, a victims assistance officer with the district. 

"Especially with all the negative stories out there about the police," added Officer Erika Davis. "Most of the time, we see people at some of the worst times in their lives, but, this is a relaxed environment." 

Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corp., said it was important for business owners in the district to know their police district. 

"It's important that me, my staff and all the business owners in the district know these officers," she said. "Things happen in a blink of an eye ... and we need to work hand-in-hand. It's a symbiotic relationship." 

Asked just what issues she hoped to discuss with police, local resident Kay Sykora said that she sees most of the issues in Manayunk as "quality-of-life" concerns – like vandalism and noise violations – which might not be the violence or drug-related issues seen in other districts. But, she said, such issues can drive local residents out of the community. 

"Quality-of-life stuff, that's what drives people out of the city," she said. "This is important, because it's important to have a dialogue with the police."