“Everyone goes into the barbershop,” Plunkett said. “[Shop Talk] is where we can go to the barbershop and we can talk with owners; we can talk to the customers, and we can let them know, ‘Hey, look, we’re human.’”
The community outreach program is a partnership between the Irving Police Department and 20 barbershops throughout the city, said Plunkett, who has been with the Irving Police Department for 28 years.
Other than occasionally holding community fundraising events, officers will informally stop by participating shops to build relationships with the owners and patrons. Valley Ranch-based 5 Star Cutz owner Demetrius Ennett said Shop Talk allows the police department to connect with groups that may otherwise not reach out during emergencies.
“If something was to happen at the shop, I feel comfortable [saying] ‘Hey Officer Plunkett, ...we have a problem,’” Ennett said.
Shop Talk has also partnered with One Community USA, formerly known as Operation Blue Shield, to award thousands of dollars in grants to local business owners.
“[One Community USA has] given away to Irving so far $3,000 last year,” Plunkett said. “They assist the shops with building their shops up [and] hiring new barbers.”
Plunkett has since received national recognition for his Shop Talk program. He traveled to Washington, D.C., in December as one of 19 recipients of the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing.
“I received a phone call from Washington, D.C., and it said, ‘Congratulations, Officer Plunkett. You were selected,’” he said. “They told me that they [would] be flying me there to receive the award. ... Chief [Jeff] Spivey—he went there with me.”
Plunkett said one of the highlights of Shop Talk was a recent event in which a mother in need received $500 to help with the holidays.
“She said, ... ‘I had no idea what I was going to be able to do for Christmas,’” Plunkett said.
Plunkett said he is hoping to expand Shop Talk to nearby cities through the partnership with One Community USA. Some of those cities include Euless, Grand Prairie and Dallas.