Officers discuss future drone usage at Provo Police Coffee (or Cocoa) with a Cop

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Provo Police’s outreach team invite people to take a drink or snack and chat with a cop at the Target Starbucks in the Provo Towne Centre mall. They will hold more outreach events during the summer so people may get to know them and ask them questions, Captain Brian Wolken shared. (Ivette Galvez)

Provo police officers gathered at the Provo Towne Centre Target’s Starbucks on May 29 to share snacks and drinks with people walking by.

Provo Police have held Coffee (or Cocoa) with a Cop and similar events to give people the chance to talk with police officers and see that they are normal people, Brian Wolken, Provo Police Department captain and special operations division commander, said.

The officers that showed up are the department’s outreach team, he explained. It is their job to participate in these type of events and reach out to the community, he said.

“We’ve done this event in the past,” he said. “Target reached out to us and asked if we’d be willing to do it.”

An officer invites a young family to grab something from their table at the Coffee (or Cocoa) with a Cop event. This event is held so individuals may get to know their local police department. (Ivette Galvez)

The event gave individuals the opportunity to talk with the officers and ask any questions they would like. Aside from warm drinks and breakfast pastries, the cops handed out stickers, pencils and pens.

“A lot of people want to know about crime statistics… they want to know about the police department,” Wolken said.

Additionally, people ask the cops about recruiting and the process to become a cop, he explained.

“Most people have no to little interaction with the police, unless it’s at a traffic stop or something like that,” Wolken said.

Provo Police does these activities so people can see they are “not the bad guys” and they are normal people, Wolken shared.

Target employee and security manager, Zac Sutton, gave his thoughts on this event.

“I feel like it’s good to be in touch with what’s going on in your community, knowing who’s working in your community,” he said.

Wolken explained the Provo Police does four events in the summer called “Brats with Cops.” They will have a barbecue at this event and give people the opportunity to come and share with them, he said.

Wolken gave some updates from the Provo Police Department, including crime rates.

“We’re actually one of the safest cities in the nation,” he said.

Larceny is seen quite frequently, Wolken explained. However, overall crime is very low, he shared.

Capt. Brian Wolken oversees Coffee (or Cocoa) with a Cop. As captain and commander of the division, Wolken helps answer questions anyone might have. (Ivette Galvez)

Wolken is also the head of the Air Support team. He responded to recent news about Colorado police using drones to determine whether to deploy officers for 911 calls or not.

“We can send drones beyond line of sight in emergencies, and right now we’re working on what’s called a drone as a first responder,” he said.

Provo Police has a waiver with the Provo airport to use drones. They have “about half a dozen different drones,” which they can send “about as far as (they) want,” he explained.

Another feature some of their drones have, Wolken shared, is thermal imaging. They have used them to find people on foothills already, he said.

“We found a suspect hiding in some bushes at the temple that we wouldn’t have seen with regular flashlights or anything else,” Wolken said.

Provo Police will use drones for search-and-rescue, mapping out traffic incidents and taking photo and video, among other things, he explained. Wolken said the drones help to know how many officers need to go and where exactly, rather than sending a whole team with all their equipment.

Another example Wolken used was using drones for missing hikers. They used one to find missing climbers, using thermal imaging.

Wolken confirmed the department does not use drones for surveillance or for detecting crime; they will be reactive to crime and a “proactive thing for missing people.”

“It’s the future,” Wolken said.

Aside from Coffee (or cocoa) with a Cop and Brats with Cops, there are other outreach events the Provo Police Department does, Wolken explained. They host a Citizens’ Academy twice a year where they teach citizens about the police department. Additionally, they hold Cops with Bobbers where they teach third, fourth and fifth graders how to fish.

Target has held events in the past, as well, connecting the community to the local police departments, Target Executive Team Leader Tanessa Brower said. They will do one during Christmas where Target helps buys coats and boots for children, involving local police participation.

It helps “just having the community come, being able to chat with cops and ask them any questions they want to get to know their P.D.,” she added.

“It also helps bridge a relationship between Target and P.D., as well,” she said.

The Provo Police Department will share their future outreach events on their social media.

Provo police cars park outside of Target as they host Coffee (or Cocoa) with a Cop at the big Target store in Provo. The department holds outreach events to get in touch with their community and answer people’s questions. (Ivette Galvez)
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