NORWICH — City of Norwich residents can bring their public safety questions and concerns to the second Coffee with the Chiefs event from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 15 at Creative Works in Norwich.
In attendance will be City of Norwich Mayor Brian Doliver, Norwich Fire Department Chief Jan Papelino, and Norwich Police Department Chief Rodney Marsh. Residents are encouraged to stop by Creative Works to enjoy free coffee from the mayor, baked goods, and have a one-on-one chat with the chiefs.
"We’re trying to encourage as many people to come. We have a lot of issues going on in our community, and we really would love to have people come and talk to them. Come with all your questions, concerns, comments," said Doliver. "We’re really excited about this second round, and we’re hoping a different location will bring more people out."
Marsh said a common concern among residents at the last Coffee with the Chiefs were homelessness, as well as drug use and crime in their neighborhoods.
"Overall, I think it went well. I had some nice conversations with residents, and I was able to hear some of their concerns," Marsh said of the last event. "Many of their concerns were the same as what appears to be major topics of today: homelessness, and suspected drug use in their neighborhoods, and crime."
"I look forward to enjoying a cup of coffee and having the opportunity to sit and talk to the residents," he added.
As far as fire department concerns and questions, Papelino said most residents at the spring event asked him about the county EMS plan. However, October is Fire Prevention Month, so the mayor and chief hope to spread some awareness about fire safety as well.
As part of that initiative, attendees at Coffee with the Chiefs will be able to sign up to receive up to three free smoke alarms per household.
"A couple years ago when we did it with the Red Cross, we actually took names and addresses and as long as they were within our district we would go install up to three smoke alarms," said Papelino. "I hate just giving them out because we don’t know if they ever get put up. So typically we take a name and an address and make an arrangement with them to go and put them up in their residence for them, that way we know they get installed."
Papelino recommends homeowners have a smoke alarm in every bedroom, in the "common area" just outside of the bedrooms, in living rooms and dining rooms, and at least one smoke alarm on each floor of the home.
Additionally, he said putting a CO detector on every floor is extremely important, especially for those who use natural gas, propane, or fuel oil in their homes.
He encourages residents with questions or concerns about fire safety or the Norwich Fire Department to come out to Coffee with the Chiefs to speak with him and receive free smoke alarms.
"If they’ve got questions I’d love to have people come and ask and try to understand, and help them learn a little bit more about the fire department and what we do, and how we do it, and why we do it the way we do," said Papelino. "If you’ve got a question or a concern, the only way either you gain knowledge or it gets fixed is you communicate it. Anything that somebody’s got a question on or they’ve got an issue about something, come and ask."
For those who can't attend Coffee with the Chiefs, the City of Norwich Common Council will be holding a meeting on Tuesday, October 18, which will be live streamed on the City of Norwich Facebook page.
Doliver said the current issue of homelessness and drug use is on the agenda, and local officials will be attending to address and inform residents on the subject.
"Homelessness and drugs are really big topics in our community, and unfortunately they go hand in hand. A lot of the people that are homeless are also struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, and these are issues that have been kind of thrown our way in the last four or five years," said Doliver.
"We’re going to continue to inform the public as much as possible on what’s going on. There are some things that are true, some things that are not true, but I think it’s best to come to the meetings, and if you can’t, tune into Facebook and check out our live stream. And I’m always available, any time," he added.
Moving forward, Doliver said he hopes to host Coffee with the Chiefs twice a year. However, in the future they may try new venues and get other city departments involved.
"We’re going to continue to do something with the public, and it's going to generally be based on public safety. I might include other departments eventually, but it’ll be something we’ll do twice a year. It might be something different next year, and I don’t know what that would be. But whatever we can do to entice people to come," he said.
"Maybe it won't be coffee next time, maybe we’ll do something different. So we’re just trying to get as many people to come as possible. It’s really important to be able to talk to the people in our community."