ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Atlanta police officers gathered at the Clean Juice bar on Marietta Boulevard Thursday afternoon for their Coffee With a Cop event, where they spoke with the public about their efforts to bridge relationships between law enforcement and the community.

Clean Juice Owner Cile Wilson was glad to provide the meeting place for this week’s event. “When Officer Jill reached out to me, I thought it was a fabulous idea. I want to do anything I can to support the policemen in our community,” she said.

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“We understand that most people’s only interactions with police officers are a lot of times in a very negative context,” said Atlanta Police Sergeant Jarius Daugherty. The interactions at Clean Juice were different and involved several police units, including the Atlanta Police Department’s recruitment team, mounted police and liaisons for LGBTQ, Hispanic and other members of the community. The interactions were about building relationships and informing the public about police efforts to provide resources.

After a year of unparalleled headlines of police brutality cases and a pandemic, officers want the world know they’re here to protect and serve. “The best way for us to do that is to have those strong bonds with the people that we serve,” said Daugherty. “We understand that there are things that have happened in the more recent past as well as in the extended past that, as a police department, we have to be aware of and confront.”

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Civilians with APD’s Crime Prevention Unit say they’re educating the public on how to take their neighborhoods back. “All police officers are not bad. The bottom line is, [the community] needs to know they are here to service them,” said Marguerita McMurray, a senior inspector with the unit and an educator. “It’s always a bad apple in the bunch, but we’re gonna make it better than it was before,” said another senior inspector, Sabrina Thomas, who has been on the force for 28 years.

Wilson says she’s ready to welcome the officers and the community back to Clean Juice for future events. “There have been a few bad apples that have ruined it for everyone, and I want to support the good police force out there. We need them,” she said. “I was flattered and honored to have them here. I think we need more of that.”

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“I feel really proud to be a part of the Atlanta Police Department, because we do a really good job of trying to reach out to our community,” said Daugherty. Officers say they’re also thankful for the support they’ve received during ongoing efforts to build trust in the community.