Coffee shops host conversations with cops

Credit: Alice White, a member of the Police Department's Community Engagement Team, visits Starbucks at 54th & Lyndale. Photo by Michelle Bruch

You’ll find Alice White at coffeehouses like Starbucks at 54th & Lyndale, Starbucks at Franklin & Nicollet and Avenue Eatery in North Minneapolis. White is part of the police department’s Community Engagement Team, and she started visiting coffee shops last winter. She sets up a table with the sign “Conversations with Cops.” She carries stacks of fliers with crime prevention tips, hands out stickers to kids, and pulls up police reports to help answer questions.

White works as a liaison to the city’s East African community, and she teaches public awareness as part of the national response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing: “If you see something, say something.”

White said she started visiting coffee shops to reach more people in the community.

“I just meet the people who are going to be there that day,” she said.


Police advisory warns of panhandling scam

Police report that panhandlers working primarily in Whittier and Stevens Square are asking for money to secure spots in homeless shelters. The request is a scam, police said.

According to the 5th Precinct: One man has repeatedly approached people on the street or parked in cars and told them he was robbed and lost everything. He said he needed $35 to get into St. Stephen’s or another shelter. He suggested calling a phone number for confirmation, and a woman at the other end of the line said he indeed needed the money. He also asked for rides to the shelter, or offered to accompany victims to an ATM while they withdrew money. He stole items from some of the victims, police said.

Police said they have verified the scam with St. Stephen’s, which offers free shelter.

“…Keep in mind that anyone who asks for money to get into a shelter could be scamming you, as most organizations have free, basic beds or programs that would not require payment to access it,” police said in a statement.