FANWOOD/SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Fanwood and Scotch Plains police departments hosted "Coffee with a Cop" events to build community relations in each town on Wednesday.
In Fanwood, Chief Richard Trigo and Lt. Francisco Marrero discussed topics ranging from how to slow down speeding on newly paved streets to building relationships between cops and kids.
Chief Trigo, who said that many of times during his career he has heard parents tell their young children that they will be taken to police officers "if they don't behave," explained that breaking down barriers between youth and the police is a priority.
"In the summer we ran a program at the Stamler Police Academy called 'Get Fit with Fanwood's Finest.' What's tug-of-war? It's a team-building activity. The officers see kids in the schools or around town, and they know each other. Community policing efforts are all about building relationships," Chief Trigo said. "We partnered with Scotch Plains PD on a 'Cops and Kids' program during the year. Anytime you can break down barriers is a win-win."
The Chief also discussed vaping.
"Shops aren't supposed to sell to kids. When we catch them, the kids don't always tell us the truth about where they got the JUUL from," Chief Trigo said. "The way to cut down on vaping is to make it 'uncool.' In the 1980s, you had Joe Camel, a character who appealed to kids and made it cool to smoke. Smoking has gone down because it lost its cool factor. The same has to happen with vaping."
In Scotch Plains, Chief Ted Conley, Capt. Jeff Briel, and Capt. Joe Zito met with residents at The Highlander diner on Park Ave. Township Manager Al Mirabella, whose father was a police chief in Elizabeth, and Mayor Al Smith, also attended the event.
"Residents were complimentary and thanked us for doing a good job," said Chief Conley.
Chief Conley did talk about a policy change. Following a rash of coyote sightings in Scotch Plains, the SPPD will be responding to all calls involving coyotes, not just ones in which the animals are acting aggressively.
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