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Residents meet Novato Police and Fire over coffee

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Thursday morning members of the Novato Fire Protection District and the Police Department met members of the community over coffee. The goal of the now monthly event is to hear what their neighbors have to say and meet them face to face.

The events are held at a different coffee shop each month in Novato. “Before the event was held last month, it had only been quarterly. “This is an event (police) Chief Berg and I started several months ago.,” Novato Fire Protection District Chief Mark Heine said.

Chief Heine stated it is about community engagement. “It's just an opportunity for us to get together with our citizens to hear what their questions, and concerns and thoughts are and answer any questions they have. We feel it is very well attended, we really appreciate the people who take the time out of their day to visit us,” he said.

The April event was held at Marin Coffee Roasters at Pacheco Plaza and saw around two dozen members of the fire and police departments including a police chaplain. Novato Police Chief James Berg is happy with the feedback they've been receiving. “We get a lot of compliments about our employees who have done good things. We also get questions about neighborhood issues and what they should do in certain situations,” he said.

Administrative Lieutenant John McCarthy at the Novato Police Department said that they do the national event with a different twist. “We do it a little different here in Novato and we decided to collaborate with the fire department and put these kind of events on together so we have more of a turn out, more of a connection with the community and they get to talk to all of their first responders so it's a good thing.”

We exchange cards and information, building relationships and contact information so if they do have a problem in the future they can call an officer and talk directly to them or to me as a watch officer and discuss those problems on more of a personal basis as opposed to just calling a number and you get what you get,” he said.

Novato Police Chief James Berg is pleased at how the monthly program has gone. “This is a very well attended event. It is getting more popular as we do it.We get a lot of compliments about our employees who have done good things. We also get questions about neighborhood issues and what they should do in certain situations.”

While the April event was bigger than March, the department wants to spread the word and get more of the community to attend. “We encourage anyone to come down to get to know us on a face to face basis. Often times when we meet whether it is the fire department or police department it's a call for service where there's a lot of emotion involved and there's a lot of busy work going on and we can't have that opportunity to have that one-on-one dialogue. This is a great opportunity for us to get to know people at a low key level and it's a great opportunity for us for people to learn a little bit more about us,” Berg said.

Events are listed about a month in advance and can be viewed on the city's website as well as their Facebook and Twitter pages.