The Tampa Police Department and three local McDonald's restaurants teamed up for a unique ice cream social this week.
The "Dessert with a Cop" events are one of many new ways giving homeowners and law enforcement officers the ability to chat in a more natural, stress-free environment.
"Some people are afraid to approach the police, are untrusting of the police," says Tampa Police Department Assistant Chief Marc Hamlin. "I think if you engage the police in a conversation you're going to see a human being letting his guard down."
Dessert with a Cop, Coffee With a Cop or inviting an officer to your next neighborhood meeting are all good ways to talk to officers about concerns in your community.
Tampa Police, and many other departments in the Tampa Bay area, are on social media. Officers are using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the Nextdoor apps. They monitor for problems and calls for help. You can use those apps to contact the police.
Finally, it sounds like a wild notion in these stressful times, but the next time you see a police officer in your neighborhood... just say "hi". You might be surprised by the results.