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Dialogue can build relationships

After a much-too-short period of calm, police brutality and unnecessary force were brought back into the spotlight last week, when South Carolina police Officer Michael Slager gunned down unarmed Walter Scott from behind as he fled. Cell phone video shows the events unfolding from a clear vantage point, and Slager has been fired, charged with murder for shooting Scott eight times following a traffic stop.

An audio recording recently surfaced in which Slager can be heard laughing about his “pumping” adrenaline right after the shooting. According to the New York Times, two formal complaints had been filed against Slager in the past five years, at least one due to the use of excessive force.

As of press time, it appears other officers may face charges for not doing enough to save Scott’s life.

While police in North Charleston are facing warranted backlash from the community that they are supposed to protect and serve, a local department is becoming further ingrained and closer to citizens.

Peters Township Police Department has partnered with the McDonalds restaurant on Washington Road for Coffee With The Cops, a monthly program that will allow residents to talk with Peters police informally, over a free cup of coffee.

The program is part of a national initiative of the U.S. Department of Justice. Currently, police departments in 41 states are offering Coffee With The Cops, though Peters is the first in the Greater Pittsburgh area.

Coffee With The Cops will take place the second Friday of each month through July, and we encourage residents of Peters Township – and non-residents – to stop by.

We would also love to see other local police departments become part of the program. The more we can open dialogue between citizens and police, the better the relationships can become. And, the better relationships become, the less chance there is for horrible incidents like the one in North Carolina.