It has been six months since Lathrop Police Chief James Hood decided to open up his schedule to anybody in the community that wanted to get together over a cup of coffee.
At first it went as could be expected – neighbors who were upset at other neighbors and people who wanted to see enhanced traffic enforcement in their neighborhoods took advantage of the opportunity to bend the ear of the new police chief. He has been assigned to Lathrop for the last seven years and took over the reins of the department after Danelle Hohe retired just over a year ago.
But each month things have gradually transformed into a session that serves not only to address issues, but to build a relationship with the community and bridge the gap between the department and the residents that it serves.
“Eventually the conversation became about getting to know the different deputies and how people can get involved and stay vigilant, and it’s become something that’s very positive,” Hood said. “I try and get different units out here every time we meet – whether that’s the school resource officer or the community resource officer or the K9 unit so that can people can get to know the deputies and what they do and we’re looking into reaching out to other agencies in the county to offer a different dimension of law enforcement and what it is that we do.”
On April 17, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Hood will be on hand at the Lathrop Starbucks in the Save Mart shopping center on Harlan Road to meet with residents to discuss any of the issues that they bring before him – continuing in the tradition of transparency that started with his predecessor and creates a clean line of communication between residents and law enforcement officials. Because it’s an evening event as opposed to the regularly scheduled morning get togethers, Hood said that he’ll likely have the K9 unit on hand to greet the public and has reached out to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office to have a representative on hand to answer any questions as well.
While the location is convenient for holding small meetings, it also serves a purpose – putting the chief and any member of his staff on neutral ground with those who come out to talk to them.
“There have been people who wanted to meet and when I suggested my office they’ve said they’d rather meet in the community somewhere,” Hood said. “And I think that’s a good tactic because it puts everybody on neutral ground and makes everybody equal and you get good conversations that way.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.