Pictures taken of recent outreach initiatives by the Hammond Police Department have truly captured the essence of the police department’s involvement in the community. Fitted with a variety of filters and processed through an app called Photo Lab, these pictures tell a comprehensive story that hearkens back to the organic civil service of times past.
Perhaps one of its most popular programs, the national campaign “Coffee with a Cop” is held every other month at various locations around Hammond. This event offers free coffee and conversation to community members in order to strengthen the police department’s relationship with city residents. Individuals can come to identify problems, discuss concerns, or simply have a chat over a warm cup of brew. After all, without the trust of the community, a police force cannot respond fully and regularly to serve its citizens when they need it most.
“The truth is, we cannot do our job without the community,” explained Lieutenant Steve Kellogg, Public Information Officer at the Hammond Police Department. “If someone is breaking into your garage, we can’t help unless you call us.”
That’s why Coffee with a Cop is so important, so that citizens feel comfortable speaking with officers about their concerns. Safety is, and always will be, a community effort.
While fully adopting this national movement, Chief John Doughty has also started a new initiative that is unique to the Hammond PD. Through the Voluntary Contact Protocol, officers are expected to have non-enforcement interactions when they are not actively investigating a crime or de-escalating a dangerous situation. This means getting out of the squad car and having face-to-face, casual conversations with law-abiding citizens who are going about their day.
Over the years barriers have been unknowingly forged through the advancement of technology. Doughty and the police department are acutely aware that while the new developments in technology have been invaluable to ensuring public safety, it is also a major cause of the divide that exists between police and the public. Remaining in high-tech squad cars, frequently monitoring a screen for danger, and being constantly updated via radio can make it easy to become disconnected.
Recognizing these major obstacles, the Hammond Police Department has set out to increase community outreach. From Coffee with a Cop events to self-defense classes to the daily practice of the Voluntary Contact Protocol, the Hammond PD is connecting with the citizens of Hammond, one conversation at a time.
That brings us back to the pictures. At first glance, they look like court sketches, pictures that are drawn of court scenes where photography is forbidden in order to protect individuals’ privacy. However, upon further examination it is clear that the allure of these photos comes from the apparent absence of the camera. They look like paintings or drawings, untouched by technology and rendered directly from the artist’s hand.
This is the ultimate goal of the Hammond PD - an honest and trustworthy relationship with its community.
Laughing over a piece of pizza or sharing real concerns over a cup of coffee allows citizens to connect with their police officers on a whole new, very human level. This opportunity for connection reinforces the fact that the police department exists solely to protect its citizens and uphold the community’s shared values, a venture every citizen can get behind.