What does a police officer and a barber have in common? Believe it or not – a lot.
In 2016, the Greenville Police Department and local barbers launched a “Cops and Barbers” initiative, modeled after a pilot program in Charlotte.
Cops and Barbers – an idea developed during a routine haircut – quickly became a powerful community engagement tool for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD). The concept of Cops and Barbers was first created by former CMPD Police Chief Rodney Monroe and his barber after several high-profile shootings of black men by law enforcement in Charlotte. The idea is simple. Barber shops are typically known as places where people come to have honest conversations about real-life issues. Having an officer actively participate in these discussions gives them an opportunity to hear community members’ opinions and concerns and take those ideas back to their department. Local barbers recognize that having an officer present in their shop not only can help their clients have their voices heard, but it also creates an environment for conversation and opportunities to bridge the gap when it comes to police-community relationships. The nationally-recognized program, which is led by retired CMPD Homicide Detective Garry McFadden, was highlighted by the White House as part of a progress report on police-community relations since the establishment of the national 21st Century Policing Taskforce.
GPD Officer Richie Williams is spearheading the program locally. Williams is a 15 year-veteran of the Greenville Police Department with extensive experience in the Major Crimes Unit investigating homicides. Most recently, he worked as a school resource officer. He is passionate about working with the community. Williams has worked closely with CMPD to implement the initiative locally. He will collaborate with area barbers to coordinate meetings at their shops. The meetings will enable members of the Greenville community to learn about their rights and the appropriate manner to handle themselves when coming in contact with police. Additionally, citizens are informed of the appropriate manner with which officers must conduct themselves when engaging with the public.
Those who are interested in participating in the program are encouraged to contact Officer Williams at (252) 916-1261. He can also be reached via email, email@example.com.