KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Olivia’s Catering was filled with conversations of Kinston residents getting to know their police officers, and vice versa during Wednesday’s “coffee with a cop.”

“This fosters trust, fosters a way for us to get to know each other and see that we are approachable citizens, too,” said Maj. Keith Goyette, Kinston’s interim police chief.

Tah’Ron Cannon, a Kinston resident, agreed.

“I know a lot of times when we have interactions with police officers, they ask for our IDs and different things of that nature,” Cannon said. “I think it’s good to have interactions in these environments and settings that are outside the normal.”

Not only was coffee with a cop a time to meet officers but also their new interim police chief. The City of Kinston named Goyette as the interim in late September. He’s the fourth person to hold the interim position since 2020.

With crime an important issue in the city, Goyette said he’s working to make the city a better place during his stint as interim police chief.

“Violent crime is always an issue,” he said. “We want to follow our strategic plan, follow our goals, stay vigilant in the community and make sure we can provide a safe place for our citizens who live and work here.”

Kinston City Council Member Chris Suggs said the city has officially started a nationwide search for a permanent chief.

“These meetings will share some of Kinston’s history for violence, some of the things we’d like to see in a police chief,” Suggs said. “We’ve had a lot of turnover in the police chief position so we want to find the strongest and best candidate for our city.”

Suggs said they hope to have a permanent chief by the end of the year.