The Hopewell Township Police department was out in force this past Saturday to chat and have “a cuppa” with local residents as part of this year’s National “Coffee with a Cop” initiative at the Denow Road Starbucks.
In full uniform and armed with drinks like grande pumpkin spice lattes and venti iced coffees, Chief Lance Maloney, along with ten of his sergeants and officers, mingled with the crowd to greet young and old alike. They introduced themselves and fielded the questions of interested attendees. Although some patrons were initially unaware of the event, they quickly joined the conversation.
“I was cautious at first,” one woman stated, “But then I saw people talking with them and everyone seemed at ease and enjoying themselves.”
Many residents said they were able to see the commitment the Police Department has for Hopewell illustrated by the officers’ turn-out. Police Force members who attended the event ranged from those who have worked for Hopewell Township for decades to newly-minted Officer Chris Collins, who has been serving in Hopewell for just six months.
The “Coffee with a Cop” program began in 2011 through the efforts of Sergeant Chris Cognac and others in Hawthorne, California as a way to bridge the gap that often exists between police and the neighborhoods they serve. Catching on quickly, the program now runs in all 50 United States as well as in 25 countries. With fluctuating tensions in some communities with the police, programs like this seek to dispel some ideas and provide a foundation for addressing deeper concerns by starting with something we can all share, a hot cup ‘o joe. This year, there are many different places participating including various fast-food restaurants, diners, cafes, and more than 300 Starbucks stores.
“I’ve been in this community for 20 years,” said Sergeant Mandy Grey, who was not only the first female officer in Hopewell but is now the first female police sergeant here as well. “This is a wonderful place to work with so many good people.”
The same sentiment was echoed from a 17-year veteran of the force, Officer Sara Erwin. “I was welcomed here and it has been a pleasure working in this community.”