Anonymous donation funds Coffee with a Cop event
By Tom Savage, Argus Leader
Original article HERE
It’s something that’s become common in larger metropolitan areas, and it continues to gain momentum in smaller suburbs as well. “Coffee with a Cop” now has a national presence, with events being held in markets across the country.
Coffee with a Cop brings police officers and the community members they serve together – over coffee – to discuss issues and learn more about each other.
The Brandon Police Department recently held such an event at Scooter’s Coffee on Oct. 31. Police chief Joe Weir said he doesn’t think such an event has ever taken place in Brandon, but it’s something he hopes to continue to do in the future.
“We want to engage the public and make ourselves available,” Weir said. “We want to give the public a chance to share with us any questions or concerns they may have. It’s just a chance to get to know the community better and have them get to know us better.”
About a dozen Brandon residents made the trek to Scooter’s last Thursday to meet with two police offers, Weir, and a Brandon police lieutenant. Weir said the conversations were all casual and nothing truly negative was discussed.
He had been planning a Coffee with a Cop event for several months, but got a nudge to move forward with the plans after they received an anonymous donation.
Because of all the road construction and flooding issues the community received this summer and fall, the police department was forced into traffic control on several occasions. At one such occasion at the corner of Holly and Sioux boulevards, one person stopped and handed an officer a $50 gift card to Scooter’s in a show of appreciation. Weir says he was appreciative of the gift, but didn’t think it was appropriate for the department to keep the cards.
“Ethically, it wasn’t right for us to take that,” Weir said. “But we had been planning an event, and this gave us the opportunity to fund it.”
Weir gave the gift cards to Scooter’s and told the staff to use them during the time the officers were in the shop until the funds were empty.
During a time when there is perceived animosity nationally between the police and public – something Weir calls the “polarization of society and police” – the $50 donation was a pleasant surprise.
“It is unheard of, especially that volume,” Weir said. “The expense of a $50 gift card is very excessive. That’s very nice and very refreshing, and we appreciate it.”
Because of the flooding and road construction, Weir said there was a lot of complaining on Facebook in recent months. He said for someone to go out of their way to recognize what the police department was doing during such a difficult time shows a lot of respect.
“This person saw the negative stuff with all the road construction, but in that she saw daylight,” Weir said. “In all the darkness, she saw the daylight and said look at all the police directing traffic and making sure we get through to the one road available to get to Sioux Falls. It was incredibly thoughtful and very, very nice.”
The next Coffee with a Cop event for Brandon has not been announced, but Weir assures the public that it will go on.
“If the public gets to know us better and we personalize that relationship, the community is better off,” he said.