Connecting over Coffee

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"Coffee and Conversations" brings the UW Tacoma community and the Tacoma Police Department together.

UW Tacoma Director of Campus Safety Susan Wagshul-Golden grew up in Brooklyn. “We had these beat cops who walked the neighborhood,” she said. “It was great because they got to know you and vice versa.”

That sense of connection is something Wagshul-Golden works to create at UW Tacoma. “There had to be a way to provide our campus community with an opportunity to talk with me and with local law enforcement outside of a crisis situation,” she said. Wagshul-Golden reached out to the Tacoma Police Department (TPD) with an idea. “Just about everybody likes coffee,” she said.

UW Tacoma Director of Campus Safety Susan Wagshul-Golden directs her team during a campus lock-down drill in May of 2016.Wagshul-Golden suggested having members of TPD come to Metro Coffee for a series of informal conversations. “The police chief liked the idea,” she said. “Coffee and Conversations” started in the fall of 2018 and is set to run until June of 2019. “This is sort of a pilot program and if all goes well then we plan to keep doing it,” said Wagshul-Golden.

The conversations take place at 10 am on the second Wednesday of every month. The format is loose, there is no sign-in and participants can ask any question they want. “Let’s say you’re interested in criminal justice, well this is a great platform to talk with someone in the field,” said Wagshul-Golden. “This is also the space to ask hard questions about social justice issues and find out how TPD is responding.”

The series has been successful so far. “We’ve had a good turnout,” said Wagshul-Golden. “Some folks wanted to talk about their experience with law enforcement and a few people had questions for me about campus safety planning.”

The coffee and tea provided at the event are free. “It’s an incentive to get people in the door,” said Wagshul-Golden. “We’re really trying to build community one cup of coffee at a time.”

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Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / February 22, 2019
Photos by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu