UTPD sees ‘coffee with a cop’ as chance to interact beyond 40 acres

University of Texas Police host coffee with a cop event. Nov. 4, 2016 (KXAN Photo/Julie Karam)
University of Texas Police host coffee with a cop event. Nov. 4, 2016 (KXAN Photo/Julie Karam)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — At the second “Coffee with a Cop” this year, Officer Michael Murphy with the University of Texas at Austin police department sees an opportunity to answer questions from the whole community, and not just those within the 40 acres.

Officers sat down with students and community members at the Starbucks at 24th and San Antonio Street in West Campus.

The department hopes to have two more events this school year, probably next semester. Smaller, informal settings like a coffee shop give the officers a chance to interact with people they normally wouldn’t. “Even if I’m the most motivated peace officer in the world, and I’m going to walk all buildings until I wear out my shoes, I can only talk to so many people and interact with so many members of our community,” Murphy says.

The officer says his assigned area, the east side of campus, gives him the chance to build relationships with students, faculty and staff that work in the area. More often than not, if a problem arises, he can fix it directly and more efficiently.

The central theme of Friday’s coffee with a cop: “We want to make sure that if they have concerns for us we can answer it. We want them to know we’re here for them.”

In August, UT police used its first coffee with a cop to ease students’ fears during move-in weekend. One of their biggest concerns has been campus carry, which allows licensed gun owners to legally carry their concealed weapons into approved parts of campus. Friday, Officer Murphy said he was not aware of any related incident resulting in an arrest following the implementation of the law.

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