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 of 2016. Irving Police Officer Jon Plunkett was concerned about the department’s relationship with the African-American community. His concern was that it was not as strong or as inclusive as it otherwise could be. He felt there was a segment of the African-American community that was missing in our community out-reach efforts. He approached Chief Spivey with the idea of starting a program, with the support of barbershop owners, to facilitate opportunities to use their shops for outreach efforts. This would provide patrons of the barbershops the ability to have access to police officers in a setting where difficult conversations could occur 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, we currently have 15 barbershops 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.