Marysville residents had a chance to meet Police Chief Erik Scairpon and other police officers as the city held their "Coffee with a Cop" program on Feb. 12.
The program allows casual conversations between local police officers and community members, although it hasn’t been able to happen much in recent months because of COVID-19.
“It’s been difficult during the pandemic to do these kinds of things, so we’re really glad we had that 25 percent occupancy option,” said Scairpon.
Since early February the state has allowed 25 percent occupancy in restaurants for the Puget Sound Region because of improving COVID-19 numbers.
“We were going to press ahead with doing this event even if we couldn’t do it inside, we would just stand outside,” he said.
Scairpon said hearing from the community is “critical” for leading the local police force.
“I like hearing directly from the residents of our town to understand what they’re seeing directly on the street,” he said.
Community members, Scairpon and other police officers discussed a number of issues and problems.
“It helps me understand the vibe of the town … we’ve talked about community problems, we’ve talked about good things happening in the community and we’ve talked about issues of race and bias,” said Scairpon. “Those are all real important questions for us to be having."
He said he enjoys connecting with the community at events like "Coffee with a Cop."
Scairpon became Marysville Police Chief last September and said the first few months have had a number of challenges.
Because of the pandemic and other issues, staffing has been an occasional problem.
“Everyone is dealing with their own personal challenges in their life,” he said.
The conversations around racial bias that have been happening since the death of George Floyd last summer has also been a part of continuing discussions, he said. Scairpon hopes the Marysville police can respond with positive changes to community demands and new laws from the state legislature.
“There’s a lot of challenges, such as in the state legislature when it comes to policing,” he said. “We’re very committed to policing reforms here in Marysville, but they have to be reforms that are smart reforms and don’t hamper our efforts to make the community safe."
The first "Coffee with a Cop" with Scairpon as police chief went ‘better than expected,’ he said.
“We’re so appreciative that people saw this event and even in the midst of a health pandemic people are willing to come down and voice their concerns,” he said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic is over he hopes the program is a regular part of efforts to talk and interact with the community.
“One of the things I do want to look at is building better outreach for our department,” he said.
The department recently joined the Nextdoor neighborhood social media service.
“We’re going to do more things like that so that people can interact with the police department the way they want to, rather that be online or through some other means,” he said.