Cotati’s K9 unit comes out for annual Coffee with a Cop event

By Katheine Minkiewicz, The Community Voice
Original article HERE

Amongst the smell of freshly baked blueberry teacake and brewed coffee, the Cotati Police Department K9 unit along with a police department dispatcher, attended the city’s annual Coffee with a Cop community event last Wednesday at Your Sweet Expectations Bakery near La Plaza Park, where citizens were given a chance to ask questions and voice concerns.

Bakers arrived at the newly opened bakery around 4 a.m., to start baking sweet treats and preparing for the event, according to owner Carolyn Besse, where K9 Officer Brian Deaton, his dog Remo and Cotati Police Dispatcher Rebecca Lucas gathered at 7 a.m. to speak with the Cotati residents.

For the department, the main goal of the event is to foster a sense of connection and communication with its constituents, according to Sgt. Craig Guydan, who has attended the event in the past.

“It’s about community engagement, sitting down with citizens and business owners to figure out what is going good, what could be better, it’s a public relations event and a community connection event. So people can just sit down and chat about whatever they want to chat about,” Guydan said.

Cotati Police have been hosting Coffee with a Cop as a relatively new program, however, according to Guydan, the department has had around six or seven successful Coffee with a Cop events at various coffee houses throughout Cotati, such as Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks.

“There was a several year break there where we weren’t doing it, but we’ve started it again… and we are typically going to have it once a month or so,” Guydan said of the event.

Sweet Expectations, which will soon celebrate one year of retail business in their new location, this time provided the complimentary coffee and snacks, along with dog biscuits for Officer Deaton’s dog, Remo.

Around 8 a.m. Cotati residents attended the early morning event, where the most popular topic of discussion and concern, pertained to marijuana growing and usage.

One Cotati resident, Dave Wasson, asked Deaton questions about the number of drug related incidents and behavior for police who respond to car accidents after describing an incident where he himself was placed in handcuffs after having an epileptic seizure, causing him to drive off the highway.

“I am epileptic and had a seizure on the 116 and ended up going up the embankment and as I start to wake up, I hear, ‘roll down the window’ and ‘unlock your car,’ and I am a friendly guy and the person (the officer) unlocks the door and brings me out. The next thing I hear is that we need to put you in handcuffs until we figure out what happened… and said there have been a lot of seizures in town,” Wasson said.

He said he was confused by the string of events and asked Deaton if there really were a lot of seizures in town.

Deaton was able to explain and clarify that the officer had been referring to the seizure of drugs, not epileptic physical seizures.

The main topic of discussion at the event then turned to drug use, especially marijuana use, where one Cotati resident brought up the concern of a dwelling allegedly cultivating marijuana indoors in Cotati’s Sunflower apartment complex, which she said is afraid could pose as a fire danger.

Deaton said that if needed, the officers could check out the property if there is a concern, however, he did emphasize that marijuana is becoming more and more part of the norm and with the new prop making it legal, it will remain as a constant presence no matter what city you go to.

“Drugs are in every city, whether it’s a small city or a big city and we can’t get away from it. Highway 101 goes through Cotati and is a main thoroughfare for drunk driving and people will rent a vehicle come out to Northern California, where they know the quality (of the marijuana) is good and will drive back to the east coast,” Deaton said. “Usually drug arrests are self-initiated or typically made by proactive police officers… and that is something I do as a K9 officer.”

After the question and answer period, Deaton brought in Remo to meet the citizens and employees of Sweet Expectations, where the 3-year-old German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix happily received several dog biscuits from the employees.

According to Deaton, police dogs are put through rigorous training and handler testing, where Remo was put through about five weeks of training for searching for narcotics and people, as well as learning commands.

Deaton said him and Remo are trilingual and know commands in both English, Spanish and Dutch.

This was the first Coffee with a Cop event for the K9 team, however, last week Deaton and Remo attended a similar community outreach event at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter’s “Kids and Critter’s” summer camp.

“He’s a very social dog when he’s not in his work mode,” Deaton said of Remo, who greeted everyone with a wagging tail.

Deaton said the most rewarding aspect of the event for him, is getting to tell people about what him and his dog do on a daily basis.

“I’m excited to answer people’s questions and tell them what I do on a daily basis with my dog and what he does, what he’s trained to do, when we use him and when we don’t,” Deaton said.