Sergeant Greg Gentry shares a coffee. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

THERE are hopes Victoria Police’s Coffee with a Cop initiative will continue after its 12-month community grant came to an end this week.

The program connects local officers with the community, and has seen police meet local residents over a free coffee in locations including Hargreaves Mall, Heathcote, Eaglehawk, Kennington, Kangaroo Flat and Huntly.

The initiative has been declared a success in breaking down barriers and providing an informal opportunity for residents to meet police members.

City of Greater Bendigo’s Community Grants program funded the initiative, with support from Bendigo Safe Community Forum and Victoria Police, with yesterday’s event the last under the current funding arrangement. The concept was developed by Bendigo Safe Community Forum.

Acting Inspector Bruce Simpson said police were supportive for the program to continue, if the forum was to place another application following evaluation.

As yet, there is no word whether a future funding application would be made.

“I’m certain that the council and Safe Community Forum would continue to work with police in the future to provide a safe community environment,” he said.

He believed the program worked.

“It has been great, we have had lots of interaction with the community,” he said.

“It’s not just older people or younger people, we’ve had a really broad range of people from our community come and engage with us in this program.”

Further community engagement techniques local police employ include the Bendigo Eyewatch Facebook page, as well as people interacting with Crime Stoppers.

Acting Inspector Simpson said the year-long program had been positive.

“It has enabled a lot of people to come and talk to police about things they may be concerned about or haven’t had the confidence to go down to the police station, or didn’t think it was really important to go down to the police station,” he said.

“It has really provided an informal setting for that interaction with the community.”