She's spent an hour in Hastings Library every Wednesday since June, but Senior Constable Deb Potter hasn't touched a book.

Instead she's been breaking the age-old rule for libraries - she's been talking.

It's a community policing idea from the United States, called "Coffee with a Cop".

Potter said it enabled people to talk informally with police for advice, to find out information or "just to know we are a normal person under this blue uniform".


She said she gets all sorts of people talking with her, with both complaints and questions.

"They have access to cops at the station but more often than not, that's where the queue is," she said.

"The front counter can be quite busy. And sometimes people don't want to come into the station if it is about personal stuff they want to speak about, so here is ideal for that kind of enquiry."

Coffee with a Cop originated in the United States and in Hawke's Bay has spread to Havelock North, Napier and Taradale libraries.

This Wednesday Hawke's Bay becomes part of New Zealand's contribution to the International Coffee with a Cop Day, for which senior constable Potter will be sitting in Albert Square, while her Napier colleagues will be sitting a bit closer to coffee machines and other goodies.

"We have got Kolachi here in the CBD, the Pie and Patty in Marewa, we've got The Pie Man in Maraenui and we have Barnaby's in Taradale as well," Sergeant Marie Marshall said.

While it is usually community constables who staff Coffee with a Cop, on Wednesday the Eastern District force will be out in force.

"We are going to have dog squads here, we are going to have some of our CIB members and frontline police officers," Marshall said. "So anyone that is available will come down and engage with the community as best we can."

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