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.
“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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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/