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Sparking communication between police, citizens

Farmville Police Chief A.Q. “Andy” Ellington welcomed questions and comments from those eating eggs, bacon and hot coffee Jan. 3 during the department’s Coffee and Conversation with the Chief event.

The event was the fifth held by the Farmville Police Department (FPD), but the first for Ellington in his new role as police chief.

According to a press release, the event is designed to “facilitate communication with the community in a relaxed setting and will be continued periodically throughout the year at different locations.”

Those eating at Merk’s Place and there for the event were encouraged to meet with the police officers, ask them questions and discuss topics of their interest regarding police work.

“It was very uplifting to me to be able to spend time one-on-one with people from this community and to be able to listen to their concerns in person,” Ellington said. 

The chief said he couldn’t think of anything he would change for the next event, though he would like to allow more time to converse with citizens.

Skeeter and Beth Fore, who were eating at Merk’s during the event, said they visit the restaurant every morning, but were glad to see Ellington on Friday.

“We support Andy … we are very proud of him,” Beth said.

Jes Simmons, who too dined at Merk’s, asked Ellington for his business card and expressed interest in sharing future concerns with the chief.

Frank Medlin asked the chief a business-related question, which led to a discussion of noise restrictions for trucks in town.

Ellington spent considerable time with those at each table, answering questions and responding to concerns he heard.

In addition to Ellington, several officers and FPD officers drank coffee and conversed with those dining.

“Here at the FPD, we do a number of community outreach programs — 26 to be exact,” said Ellington.

The FPD believes in community policing, which is “an organizational strategy that promotes people and their police department,” Ellington said.

“It is based on the belief that both police and the citizens must work together to identify, prioritize and solve community concerns,” he said. “We must work together to become united, not divided.”

The chief said he feels it’s vitally important for community members to know their police officers personally. 

“I feel this is an excellent way of doing so, by meeting with people one-on-one and indulging in conversation with them,” he said. “I am looking forward to our next outing as we are already in the process of reserving a location.”