I mentioned a few of the changes coming within the Amesbury Police Department in last week’s column, especially with our new “team” approach to “The Amesbury Beat.”

Today actually marks the anniversary of my career in writing as “Watchwords” appeared in the Amesbury News on July 12, 1996. The 23 years translates into roughly 1,200 columns and I have never duplicated one along the way.

Quite a few readers have asked what my writing plans are for the future and my hope is to actually compile a book, utilizing the community policing and crime prevention material I’ve accumulated over the years. Each year, I like to express thanks to the editor and staff on our anniversary because the columns are an important public service provided by The Daily News. We truly appreciate their support and the space each week.

A few years ago, Chief William Scholtz and I attended a training session in Waterville Valley in New Hampshire that covered a program launched by the Hawthorne, Calif., Police Department in 2011.

“Coffee with a Cop” was developed to break down some of the barriers between police agencies and communities. The program invites the public to stop by a local shop, enjoy a cup of coffee, and speak with police officers about concerns, issues or to just say hello. We had actually been doing the coffee hour at the Senior Center for years, so knew they had a great idea.

I’m pleased to announce that “Coffee with a Cop” is coming to Amesbury as Officer Jon Morrill has offered to get things started. The first was actually held a few days ago at the Market Square Bakehouse, but more coffee hours are coming at various venues and times, so keep an eye out for more details.

To date, the program is happening across the country and in 15 foreign countries; police departments are building community relations, one cup of coffee at a time.

Officer Ron Guilmette has taken over the assignment of the National Night Out and has been busy planning for the 36th annual event on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

This year will be our 24th time participating and an evening of fun will be happening at Amesbury High School between 6 and 8 p.m. The Amesbury event features free food, music by Northshore 104.9, activities by the staff at the Amesbury Public Library, and plenty of cars and trucks for kids of all ages.

Several community partners help to make the show possible as we celebrate the success and importance of community policing. Please check back for more details here and on the Amesbury PD Facebook page in the next few weeks.

Every so often, I like to remind readers about the importance of following the weather forecast, seemingly at just about every time of year.

During the summer, our area can experience severe weather as cold fronts often trigger hefty thunderstorms. Thunderstorms can contain strong winds, torrential rains, hail and dangerous lightning, so get inside when one hits.

It’s also a good idea to check the forecast if you’re traveling, so you know what to expect when you get where you’re headed. It’s New England, so we are used to changing conditions. Just don’t let Mother Nature unexpectedly ruin your plans.

Officer Tom Hanshaw is the crime prevention officer for the Amesbury Police Department.