'I'm learning and I'm listening': Newburgh police entice residents with coffee, conversation – Times Herald-Record

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CITY OF NEWBURGH – Outside Rob’s Roast Coffees on Wednesday morning, Police Chief Anthony Geraci and his officers waved at cars on Liberty Street, beckoning them inside for a cup of coffee.
Little hands poked out of school bus windows, waving at the officers as they passed by. A woman walking her dog stopped for a brief chat as Geraci patted the pup’s head. Officers talked to people in cars stopped at the red light next to Rob’s Roast.
Geraci, who has been chief a little more than a month now, said he believes that minor changes to police strategies could go a long way toward deterring violent crime in city’s neighborhoods.
A key, he said, is having officers in areas where people can see them, approach them and talk to them.One of his solutions is to have officers walking around more.
He has directed them to step out of their police vehicles and periodically walk about their patrol area.
“Even if it’s just a few minutes every hour,” Geraci said.
He has also encouraged certified officers to go out on bicycles when they can.
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The department hosted four, hour-long Coffee with a Cop sessions that morning, starting at 2 Alice’s on Broadway at 7 a.m.
“My early indication is that people want to get to know us, but the message was ‘We don’t know our officers,'” Geraci said while sitting at a bistro table outside Rob’s Roast.
If one of the budget requests from Geraci and Commissioner José Gomérez is fulfilled, the department would dedicate three officers to foot patrols.
At the next stop, Blacc Vanilla Café on South Street, officers and the chief were joined by the commissioner.
Gomérez came in about 9:30 a.m. and made a couple rounds through the cafe, greeting and talking to the 20 or so guests of the police department, which footed the bill. 
Gomérez said it would be “arrogant” of him to say he knows all the answers to solving Newburgh’s issues with crime when he’s only been there about a month.
But what he is most interested in exploring is why people are committing violence against each other.
“I believe only a small percentage of people have chosen this lifestyle,” Gomérez said.
He asked: Is it something people feel forced to do because of economics, their environment or their social circles? Is it economical, in terms of making money in the absence of a job? Is it a lack of education?
Whatever the solution is, he knows it isn’t something that is simple or easily accomplished.
“Or it would’ve been done already,” Gomérez said. “I’m learning and I’m listening.”
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