From morning to evening, Anaheim PD officers chat with locals on National Coffee With a Cop Day

By Rebecca D'Auria and Greg Hardesty

Waking up, getting dressed, and getting coffee is a morning routine for most people.

When Anaheim residents walked into a Starbucks on East Santa Ana Canyon Road on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for their staple cup of liquid energy, they probably didn’t expect to be greeted by a table full of Anaheim Police officers.

Star Brown of Anaheim walks into a Starbucks on Brookhurst Street in Anaheim past a Coffee with a Cop sign encouraging people to get to know the APD officers inside.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

“Good morning, would you like a pastry to go with your coffee?” Crime Prevention specialist Arleen Harris asked a resident.

The on-duty-officers were taking a break from laying down the law to mingle with the community over a cup of joe to celebrate National Coffee with a Cop Day.

Anaheim PD Sgt. Chris Cooper hands drinks to customers at a Starbucks drive-through window as he introduces himself during APD’s Coffee with a Cop event on Oct. 3.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

APD officers went to four different locations throughout the morning and early evening.

In addition to the east Anaheim location, they fanned out to a Starbucks on north Brookhurst Street, to one on north Harbor Boulevard, and to another Starbucks on west Lincoln Avenue.

“Coffee with a Cop is super important,” Anaheim Councilmember Stephan Faessel said at the Starbucks on East Santa Ana Canyon Road. “Enforcing laws in the state of California is tough. Officers put their lives on the line every single day, so we need to at least admire that and give them a chance to tell their side of the story.”

Anaheim PD Officer Stephen Salicos talks to Tiffanie Bas of Anaheim about community information during APD’s Coffee with a Cop event at Starbucks.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Over at the Brookhurst Street Starbucks, local Dagan King was chatting up officers about ways to improve his neighborhood.

“We kind of got on the topic of people speeding through my neighborhood, as well as Neighborhood Watch,” said King, who learned about the event on Facebook.

With guns drawn, two suspects are taken into custody after someone ran into a Starbucks where several officers were participating in a Coffee with a Cop event and told them he saw people breaking into cars in the parking lot next door.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

“This gave me the opportunity to talk to officers and learn some things,” King said.

Tiffanie Bas walked into the same Starbucks and was surprised to see officers there.

“I talked to one officer who let me know what (phone) numbers are available to the community,” Bas said. “My parents live in the west side of Anaheim, so I will give them this information.”

One of two suspects taken into custody is handcuffed before being taken to the Anaheim PD jail.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

While Starbucks provided a place to hold the event, officers provided the answers – along with some free pastries.

“A lot of times, people feel embarrassed to say what they want to say, so Coffee with a Cop gives citizens an opportunity to just share whatever information they want,” Harris, at the east Anaheim Starbucks, said. “Whether it’s positive or something that’s going on in our neighborhoods that we could work on down the line, we like to know.”

Dagan King of Anaheim, who came to Starbucks because he heard about Coffee with a Cop and saw the event as an opportunity to talk to officers about ideas to make his neighborhood better, talks to Nancy Loewe, Senior Crime Prevention Specialist/Community Service Division, of the Anaheim PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Fullerton resident James Grigsby explained how Coffee with a Cop provides a positive interaction between officers and residents.

“[Coffee with a Cop] starts bridging a gap, and we start seeing the humanity behind the badge,” Grigsby said. “So actually the whole community can see that it’s not just this ominous tone that’s already out there with law enforcement.”

Anaheim Crime Prevention Specialist Arleen Harris talks with James Grigsby of Fullerton, as members of the Anaheim Police Department host Coffee with Cop at an Anaheim Starbucks Wednesday, Oct. 3, in east Anaheim.
Photo by Stephen Carr / Behind The Badge

Along with breaking down the barrier between citizens and law enforcement, Coffee with a Cop aims to provide a space for residents to express their thanks to the men and women who help keep them safe.

“Most of the time we’re dealing with a subject that we’re taking to jail,” Officer Ted Petropulos said. “So it’s nice to see the people who actually support us.”

Back at the Brookhurst Street location, Sgt. Chris Cooper was working the drive-through window.Growing up, he did the same at McDonald’s.

“So, I had the background for this,” Cooper said with a laugh. “They (motorists) were surprised when they saw me, but when I explained it was National Coffee With a Cop Day, they were glad to participate…A lot of the kids that came through were excited to see me. It was fun to see their reactions.”

Anaheim PD officers Jason States (left) and Ted Petropolulos talk with City of Anaheim 5th District Councilmember Stephen Faessel and his Senior Policy Aide Amanda Edinger as members of the APD host a Coffee with a Cop at an Anaheim Starbucks.
Photo by Stephen Carr / Behind The Badge

Coffee with a Cop started as a grassroots effort in nearby Hawthorne in 2011 to allow officers and community members a place to interact and engage positively in a non-threatening environment.

The idea became so popular it has become a recognized program through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) within the United States Department of Justice.

In 2016, the COPS Office established National Coffee with a Cop day as the first Wednesday in October annually. For more information, visit https://coffeewithacop.com/national-cwac-day/

Members of the APD host a Coffee with a Cop at an Anaheim Starbucks.
Photo by Stephen Carr / Behind The Badge

From left to right, Anaheim PD officers Robert Melchoir, Ted Petropolulos and Jason States talk with Anaheim Hills resident Mitchell Siegel, City of Anaheim 5th District Senior Policy Aide Amanda Edinger, and City of Anaheim 5th District Councilmember Stephen Faessel.
Photo by Stephen Carr / Behind The Badge

Anaheim PD officer Robert Melchoir talks with Anaheim Hills resident Mitchell Siegel, as members of the Anaheim Police Department host a Coffee with a Cop at an Anaheim Starbucks on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
Photo by Stephen Carr / Behind The Badge

Anaheim PD officer Robert Melchoir talks with Anaheim Hills resident Mitchell Siegel at the event.
Photo by Stephen Carr / Behind The Badge