Get To Know The Norwich Fire And Police Chiefs At Coffee With The Chiefs
Published: June 2nd, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Get to know the Norwich fire and police chiefs at Coffee with the Chiefs Area residents will have the opportunity to meet NPD Chief Rodney Marsh and NFD Chief Jan Papelino and ask them questions or offer comments at Coffee with the Chiefs, scheduled for 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 4 at Deja Brew in Norwich. (Photos by Sarah Genter)

NORWICH — The City of Norwich Police Chief Rodney Marsh and the City of Norwich Fire Chief Jan Papelino will be at Deja Brew on Saturday, June 4, from 9 to 11 a.m. for Coffee with the Chiefs.

The event serves as a way for residents to meet the chiefs, ask questions, provide comments, and learn more about how the departments operate.

"It’s going to be an opportunity for the police and the fire department to be there and talk to the public about any questions they have," said City of Norwich Mayor Brian Doliver. "It’s one of the ways we’re trying to make sure we get the message out to the public about what we do, and then we want to hear from the public: questions, concerns, comments. It’s very important."

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According to Doliver, the idea for Coffee with the Chiefs was formed after the Community Action Board created last year suggested the police department get more involved in the community.

"We had talked about doing Coffee with Cops, and I decided not long after I started as mayor that I would include the fire department. I know the community has a lot of questions about the fire department. We have a unique structure at the fire department, and so from an outside observer it looks different, but there are some real, real good reasons why we do things the way we do," he said.

"Our police department, we have a number of police officers in a smaller area, but we have a lot of crime, we have a lot of drug activity," he continued. "Public safety is a big part of our budget, and that’s why it’s another reason why the public should know as much as possible."

Doliver has acted as the organizer of the event, and will be providing refreshments for attendees. It will not be a structured question and answer format, but rather an open time for residents to enjoy a cup of coffee while also getting to know their local chiefs.

"I’d like to make it an open forum, just kind of like a casual thing where you can come in, the police chief and fire chief will be there, I will be there, and we want people to feel welcome and speak freely, and ask any questions you have," he said. "You know, we do a lot, and I think sometimes there’s misnomers out there and that’s fine. That’s why we welcome you to come and ask these questions."

NFD Chief Jan Papelino said he hopes residents will use Coffee with the Chiefs as an opportunity to learn more about how the fire department works, and regulations they have to comply with.

"I hope that, number one, if people have questions about how the fire department or aspects of our public safety run or operate and why we do some of the things that we do, I’d like to have people come and ask questions. Instead of wondering how it works, at least try to really find how it does work," said Papelino. "We’ve got regulations and things that we have to follow, and collective bargaining agreements that we have to keep in mind with our staff."

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"It’ll give them an opportunity to come and get answers, or at least try to help them understand a little bit more of why we do what we do," he added.

NPD Chief Rodney Marsh said he's open to discuss anything attendees would like to know more about.

"I’m looking forward to sitting down with community members, having a cup of coffee, and discussing whatever is on their minds," said Marsh. "This will be the first time participating in something like this and we hope it's successful. It’s something we’d like to host annually or even a couple of times a year."

According to Doliver, a second Coffee with the Chiefs is already in the works, which he hopes to hold at The Cottage Bakery in October.

"We’re already going to work on something with an October timeframe. So what I’d like to do, is I’d like to have it continue twice a year," said Doliver. "We think that the coffee shop idea works really well. I’m already working with The Cottage Bakery across the street for the October Coffee with the Chiefs, and then who knows what the next year will be. But we’re going to work with only local businesses."

For those who can't attend Saturday's event but still have questions, Doliver said he can take down their information to pass on to the chiefs, or residents can email them directly. Papelino said individuals are welcome to email him, call the station and leave a message, or stop by the station to speak with him in person.