Shop Talk is a community outreach program designed for residents who would not normally attend community town halls, but have a desire and need to have their voices heard. In order to facilitate those conversations, the Irving Police Department has formed a barbershop outreach as a way to have open and honest dialogue with the community in an environment where they feel comfortable. This idea was born out of the Dallas Police shooting in July 2016.
Irving Police Officer Jon Plunkett was concerned the department’s relationship with the African-American community was not as strong or as inclusive as it could be. He felt there was a segment of the African-American community that was missing in the department's community outreach efforts. With the support of barbershop owners, Plunkett gained the approval of Chief Spivey to facilitate opportunities to use these shops for outreach efforts. Patrons of the barbershops have access to police officers in a setting where difficult conversations could occur more naturally.
As a line from the movie "Barbershop" says:
Wait, hold on here. Is this a barbershop? Is this a barbershop? If we can't talk straight in a barbershop, then where can we talk straight? We can't talk straight nowhere else. You know, this ain't nothin' but healthy conversation, that's all.
Since the start of this program, 15 barbershops are participating. Officer Plunkett and one of the shop owners have been recognized and received awards from the Irving-Carrollton NAACP for starting and participating in the program. The Shop Talk program has now partnered with One Community USA in hopes to expand this program outside of Irving and provide scholarships to barbershops & salons in neighboring cities.