LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The effort to unite residents with law enforcement is what many cities and towns around the nation are trying to accomplish amid recent tension.
A cup of coffee and conversation brought residents out to Bank House Coffee to mingle with those who work to protect their neighborhoods.
"They put their lives at risk for us and we appreciate it," said Angie Holmes, Long Beach resident.
Holmes saw the morning as an opportunity to teach her young grandson a lesson.
"Oh, it's so important for the young kids to realize the policemen are there to help them," said Holmes.
Although that was the message that the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce was trying to make clear, the event wasn't planned directly in response to recent negativity towards the police. Organizers say the meetup has been planned for several months to get dialogue going in the community.
People who attended say the event had the desired effect.
"I think it opens the lines of communication better," said Donald Frazer.
Communication is exactly what Chief Wayne McDowell wants more of, and he feels similar social events might be exactly what it takes to make it happen.
"A lot of people might not want to just show up thinking we're busy, or, they only meet us face to face when we're called for some reason. This gives an opportunity in an informal setting, they can come and any concerns they have they can ask or we can address what they have in their neighborhoods," said McDowell.
McDowell says the more confidence built between the police and people in areas all throughout the city, the better.
"Law enforcement can't do this by ourselves, it takes the community. There are way more people's eyes in the community than there are law enforcement," said McDowell.
According to McDowell, the police department's success lies in the cooperation of the city it protects. It was the chamber's first coffee event with police, and the organization hopes it won't be the last.