CHICAGO (CBS) — Using coffee and conversation to connect is what Chicago police officers on the South Side are doing to recruit new members Friday.

CBS 2’s Steven Graves tells us about a unique program promoted by The Chicago Urban League that encourages face-to-face interaction to break down barriers and foster understanding.

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Call it a place to find common grounds — where coffee and conversation are brewing.

Chicago police and people in the community talking, laughing and crying.

“I’ve been crying. I’m not lying.”

Cequena Wilkes came to Afro Joe’s Coffee shop in Auburn Gresham for support.

“I think it’s just the fear of knowing that I might not pass.”

She wants to be a Police officer.

“It’s just this physical and credits that’s my barrier,” Wilkes said.

But she’s passed her first test. Hoping this Chicago police recruitment event gives her the final push.

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“I want to be a Detective. That’s really my goal.”

For the mom of two, a Chicago native, it’s personal.

“I grew up in the system. You know, my momma was murdered in this city. When I was 14-years-old.” Wilkes said. “We need more people out here who can relate and understand seriously what’s going on.”

It’s why Chicago Police chose this shop for this event – Coffee with a Cop.

An annual, national day that CPD has turned into a recurring recruitment tool. Showing eager people what could be and talking to the hesitant about not just policing, but all of life’s hurdles.

“This is sister to sister. You got this. Don’t give up.”

Officers say it’s not about increasing numbers, but finding ambition, drive, and passion for community — a calling for Wilkes.

“You want to be the change because we need it. We need leaders who can step up and say, ‘I’ve had enough’,” she said.

You can expect to see more events like this at locally owned businesses in part to help increase diversity within the Chicago Police Department.

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Their next event will take place back at Afro Joe’s Coffee shop on Saturday, Jan. 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Source: CBSNews

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