In November 2014, Eric Songy decided he wanted to do something for NOPD officers in the Fourth District. As the new president of the Bocage Civic Association (BCA), Songy reached out to NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison and asked what he could do. The two figured out a way for BCA residents and police officers to get together and discuss issues in the neighborhood by sharing a meal together.
So on the second Tuesday of each month two BCA residents volunteer to buy lunch or dinner for two of the NOPD’s Fourth District Officers at the Olive Branch Café – and the conversation doesn’t always center on crime.
“Since we started we’ve never had a problem getting two residents to volunteer,” said Songy. “During the two years we’ve been doing this we’ve gotten to know a lot of officers and a lot of officers have gotten to know our residents and our neighborhood. We’ve also learned a lot about what it takes for officers to be able to do their jobs and some of the issues they have to deal with every day.”
The officers are selected by district Commander Caesar Ruffin.
“Activities like this interaction between the department and the community are important on many levels,” said Commander Caesar Ruffin. “It fosters a strong relationship between officers and the community they serve. It helps the police department meet one of our many goals, which is to become one with the community. It’s not us against them – we are part of the community.”
Commander Ruffin feels that meetings like these allow NOPD officers to get to know the citizens they serve on a personal level as opposed to meeting and interacting with citizens under stressful situations on crime scenes.
“The best thing that has resulted from the dinners and lunches has been the bonding between the officers and the community,” said Ruffin. “I have attended a couple of the events and the chemistry is natural, the conversation flows smoothly – it’s not always about the police and crime. Citizens actually take the time to get to know the person behind the badge.”