Officers, patrons raise funds for Special Olympics during Westminster’s Tip-a-Cop event


Police officers enforce laws, protect people and property, respond to emergencies, and maintain order — and once in a while, they deliver food and drinks to hungry restaurant goers.

Sworn officers and professional personnel with the Westminster Police Department enthusiastically performed that last role admirably during the agency’s first-ever Tip-A-Cop fundraiser, held Aug. 30 at Lazy Dog Restaurant on Beach Boulevard in Westminster.

The Tip-A-Cop event is a fundraiser and awareness campaign for the Southern California chapter of the Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Officers accepted tips from Lazy Dog dinner patrons which were donated to Special Olympics Southern California. Diners who showed the flyer to their server had 15 percent of their total bill donated to the nonprofit.

“We value that and appreciate being able to help,” Westminster Police Chief Darin Lenyi said. “This also gets us out there in the community with the Special Olympics athletes and working with people in non-traditional law enforcement roles, which I think is very important nowadays, just helping serve food, joking around and championing a cause.”

A family takes pictures in front of Lazy Dog restaurant in Westminster with a couple of vehicles made to look like those from Pixar’s movie, “Cars,” during a Tip-A-Cop fundraiser.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Westminster Police Department, along with many law enforcement agencies, also participates in the Law Enforcement Torch Run to raise funds and awareness for the Special Olympics.

Community Services Supervisor Cindy Grey said Lenyi has been successful in connecting the department with the public. Since she had planned the Torch Run, the chief asked Grey to also organize the Tip-A-Cop event.

“The chief brought it to my attention and I was happy to try to put it together, especially since I had already done the torch run,” Grey said. “We love to be a part of that its good way to engage with the community and contribute to a worthwhile organization like Special Olympics.”

Westminster Police Explorer Angel Hernandez helps serve food during a Tip-A-Cop fundraiser at Lazy Dog restaurant.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

About 20 officers and staff members participated in Tip-A-Cop, and Westminster Police Explorers were also there to provide support.

“I’ve never done anything like this so being able to be part of it has been truly amazing,” said Records Supervisor Lucy Gevorgyan, who waited tables during the event. “It’s amazing to be able to give back and work with the Special Olympics.”

After serving meals and balancing multiple beverages on heavy trays, Gevorgyan developed a new-found appreciation for the jobs performed by the wait staff.

“This is incredible what they do and I feel a lot of people don’t appreciate their work,” Gevorgyan said. “This really opens my eyes. What they do is truly remarkable.”

Westminster Police Officer Roland Perez helps serve a table during a Tip-A-Cop fundraiser at the Lazy Dog restaurant in Westminster.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Special Olympics athletes were also at the event engaging with restaurant patrons and the officers. Among the athletes was Jenny Skinner, a swimmer, cross country skier, and downhill skier. Skinner is also a global messenger for the Special Olympics.

“I think it really is wonderful because the athletes and the police officers are combined together,” Skinner said. “Tonight is very special. It’s actually really good for all of us.”

Lazy Dog Manager Avery Harestad said the restaurant had been looking to plan a fundraiser, so when she was contacted by Westminster Police Department to consider hosting Tip-A-Cop, it was a perfect opportunity to support the police and Special Olympics.

“It’s a huge thing for us,” said Harestad, who is in charge of marketing at the restaurant. “We call Westminster police any time we are having issues. We love giving back to them.”

Westminster Police Records Supervisor Lucy Gevorgyan and Det. Mike Gradilla serve drinks to a table during a Tip-A-Cop fundraiser at the Lazy Dog restaurant in Westminster.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Some of the wait staff volunteered to take a shift during the Tip-A-Cop event, Harestad said.

Jessica Lostaunau of Westminster and her husband support many police activities and decided to go for a meal at Lazy Dog when they found out about Tip-A-Cop.

“This is our first time but we would do it again,” said the Lostaunaus, who recently signed up for Westminster Police Department’s Citizens’ Academy. “It’s been really nice chatting with them.”

Special Olympics athlete has his medals admired as guest participate in Westminster Police Department’s Tip-A-Cop fundraiser. Officer Sam Gradilla is at right.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Westminster Police Det. Mike Gradilla brings water to a table during a Tip-A-Cop fundraiser at the Lazy Dog restaurant.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Cars made to look like vehicles from Pixar’s movie “Cars” and the movie “Ghost Busters” are parked in front of Lazy Dog restaurant in Westminster along with a Westminster Police Department patrol car and SWAT vehicle as guests walk in to participate in a Tip-A-Cop fundraiser for Special Olympics.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge