CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — You cannot really get to know someone unless you make the effort to talk to them. That is why the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office hosted “Coffee with a Cop” Wednesday morning.

A cup of joe and conversation with a cop. Sheriff Dustin Heuerman said they have done this event before, but this year’s event had one of the best turnouts yet. It is about getting to know the person behind the badge.

“I met two of them who are actually military veterans,” said Joshua Jackson. “So not only do they even serve the county, they’ve also served the country. So, that’s a really big honor.” People like Jackson showed up at Industrial Donuts in Savoy bright and early to connect with those who serve and protect. But it is a 2-way street.

“It has been an amazing experience today,” said Sheriff Heuerman. He said he and his deputies are also eager to meet people in the community.

Oftentimes, when people come encounter with police officers, it’s in emergency or stressful situations. But when you can sit back, relax and share a cup of coffee with them, the conversation can be much different.

“We had somebody come in this morning who said, ‘One of your deputies, I’ve seen twice in the last month,” said the sheriff. “‘Once was when I ran off into a ditch because it was really slick outside.'” He continued to say they do not want the only time or impression on somebody to be associated with something bad.

It was more than a meet-and-greet. They also welcomed suggestions and discussion on tougher topics.

“I was talking to a couple of reverends who were here this morning,” said the sheriff. “We’re working on collaborations on how to tackle some of this violent crime from a holistic stance. That’s really the key here.” He said the past couple years have unfortunately proven that no one is immune to the rise in violence and talking about it is the first step in fighting it.

“This gun violence we’re seeing and things in the community, that’s a community issue,” said Heuerman. “We’re all in this together. We don’t have all the answers.”

The sheriff said they plan to have more events like this in the summer. The Champaign Police Department’s “Coffee with a Cop” is on Friday. It is at Café Kopi from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.