Community law enforcement, with a side of biscuits and gravy
PUTNEY -- Windham County Sheriff Cpl. Melissa Martin apparently makes a mean plate of biscuits and sausage gravy.
Martin has been patrolling in Putney since September 2009 when Putney agreed to a full-time contract with the Windham County Sheriff's Department. Since then she has tried to make herself available and believes that the key to successful community law enforcement is rooted in the relationships she builds.
But not too many people have had her biscuits and gravy. On Thursday, Aug. 7, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Martin will be cooking them up at the Putney General Store.
The event is a fundraiser for the Putney Family Services Family Food Bag program which helps provide weekly groceries to 10 local families. And it is also a chance for Putney residents to get to see a different side of Martin, and to ask questions about the role the sheriff's department plays in the greater Putney area.
"We read about the event they had in Brattleboro where they had 'Coffee with a Cop,' and thought we should do that up here. I said I would do it, but only if I could make my sausage gravy," Martin said. "I'm from Alabama and you can't really get good sausage gravy around here."
Martin said she was excited to raise money for the Putney Family Services program and 30 percent of the profits from the breakfast Thursday will go to support the food security work.
And she said the event Thursday is a way for people to ask her questions about law enforcement in Putney and about the work she has been doing.
"It is going to be a relaxed way to ask questions and find out what I do in town," Martin said. "For me it is a way to find out about trouble spots in town I might not know about and I can do more."
"I think it is a great way to make connections," said Sheriff Keith Clark. "It's a great way to engage the public in conversation."
Clark said the event in Putney was entirely Martin's idea, though he said it was something he would like to see more of in the other communities that the sheriff's department serves.
"This is a way to see law enforcement in a different light," he said. "People have always had meals together. It gives people a chance to talk and get to know each other and that makes it easier to do our jobs. It is not always easy to reach out to law enforcement; you usually do it when there is some sort of a crisis and this is a way to go beyond that. We would like to see more of this."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.
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