UMass Lowell Connector Logo

Police, community come together for “Coffee with a Cop”

Al Gentile
Connector Editor

On Wednesday Sept. 24, several members of the UMass Lowell Police Department and the Lowell Municipal City Police Department gathered at University Crossing to meet with members of the community to participate in an open forum as part of the “Coffee with a Cop” event.

As community members and police officers mingled, one couldn’t help but draw a comparison to a cocktail party with its laid-back persona. This casual setting was, according to all officers in attendance, exactly the point.

“The premise,” UMass Lowell Police Chief Randolph Brashears noted,“ is to bring the community and the police together in an informal setting to talk about issues,”

One concern that this event was geared to remedy, according to detective Sgt. Scott Childs, was that many see police officers as “just a uniform.” “This gives [the community] the opportunity to find out that we’re people too; just like them, we have families,” Childs said. “It’s about relationships that we like to have with the kids, with the civilians that are out here because, without that, we’re useless.”

A popular comment among the officers was that many students and community members alike are afraid to speak to the police. “A lot of times people are afraid to approach the police because they don’t know if they are going to ask a silly question or they’re going to bother them,” Childs says.

Each officer was easily approachable, and throughout the room there was laughter and good spirits along with pointed questions regarding safety and the work the police force does.

The adversity to approaching police officers is likely the key reason why many concerns go unanswered. The lack of blue emergency telephones along Pawtucket Street between North and South Campuses is a major concern that many students hold. At this event, one could find out there is an easy and perfectly logical answer.

Brashears told The Connector that, simply put, the University does not own that stretch of property “It involves city ordinances [and] power ordinances,” Brashears said.

He was then able to put the problem into a more reasonable context: “It’s probably more advantageous to pull out your own phone where you can call it in and keep moving.”

Brashears was also able to corroborate a story about a new RAVE app that is in developmental stages, one with many concerns that a civilian or student might not think about. “The option is being investigated.”

“It sounds great, it looks great,” Brashears noted, but made sure to express that there were logistical concerns that haven’t completely been flushed out, such as technical and connectivity issues. Still, he was sure to say that students can always call the emergency phone number and talk to a live person.

UML PD Deputy Chief Ron Dickerson was also in attendance and echoed the anxiety surrounding approaching officers as a civilian. “You can ask me anything you want!” he stated. “I remember when I was a kid going and talking to a police officer was a little intimidating.”

According to Dickerson, this communication is integral to their job of protecting the student body. “We’ll get more input on their quality of life if they could just come up and talk to us.”

Childs expanded on the atmosphere: “It’s not a car stop, it’s not because your house got broken into. This is just an opportunity to meet and greet,” he said.

When asked whether or not this type of event could be transformed into something more student-centric, Brashears said, “If it goes well tonight, it will be.”


As part of staying safe on campus, it is important to have the emergency phone number for the UMass Lowell Police Department. The Emergency Number is 978-934-4911.
Any general questions for the Police Department at UMass should be directed to their non-emergency phone number at 978-934-2398.
If you have any comments or questions for the author, email

Related posts