Casper police Sgt. Dan Dundas set daily priorities for his patrol team Wednesday morning in an unusual location — Metro Coffee Co.

Just north of a dozen officers, including Interim Chief Steve Schulz, circled up in the back of the coffee shop at 6:50 a.m., while a smattering of private citizens looked on from surrounding couches.

The gathering, which fell on National Coffee with a Cop Day, is part of a new initiative by the Casper Police Department to connect officers with the community they serve.

The initiative, called “Our Community,” also includes intermittent foot and bike patrols downtown and more frequent appearances at community events. The effort also focuses on being more sensitive to the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The department recently opened a new “soft interview room” to help victims feel safer while talking to investigators. Officers are also receiving new training for interviewing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Police appeared later Wednesday morning at four other coffee shops to chat informally with locals.

At Metro, Dundas mentioned this week’s shooting in Las Vegas before asking officers to pick up new body armor intended for use in an active shooter situation.

The department had announced the body armor Tuesday on Facebook, noting, “Hopefully this gear will never be used, but we want to make sure our community is protected in case something ever happens.”

Dundas called for officers at Metro to do their paperwork near crosswalks, in an attempt to ensure drivers would yield to pedestrians, before thanking citizens for showing up and asking for input.

“Thank you,” Cheryl Pieri said, breaking the silence. “I love your videos.”

Dundas hosts lighthearted Facebook videos that highlight the department’s most wanted suspects. Sunday’s installment had racked up 20,000 views by Wednesday morning.

After returning chairs and tables to their original locations, officers headed out to patrol assignments and other coffee shops.

Speaking after the event, Lt. Jeremy Tremel said he expects both police and private citizens to grow more comfortable with the public briefings.

Schulz has said he the community team briefings will be held once or twice a month.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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