Coffee with a Cop debuts at Reading hotel

By Steven Henshaw, Berks & Beyond
Original article HERE

When Reading police Officer Anne Pletcher was asked to participate in the latest “Coffee with a Cop,” she agreed, even though the event was held outside of her work shift.

Pletcher cares that much about the city that she calls home.

She was in her patrol uniform Thursday at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, with other officers and department leaders, meeting residents and hotel staff in a casual atmosphere.

Pletcher taught at Reading High School for 10 years and Southwest Middle School for two years before going to the Reading Police Academy in 2014.

“There are many wonderful people who live in Reading,” Pletcher said, as the din of conversations filled the grand room. “This kind of event brings the community and the police together. I feel that’s really important. We all need to work together to make Reading better.”

Even in some of Reading’s worst blocks, she said, you’ll find some homes where people care enough to decorate the fronts of their residences.

“There are two or three families that are good people, who are trying to make a difference on their block.” she said.

Sgt. Luz Shade, who was recently named the department’s community resource coordinator, said Thursday’s event marked the first time Coffee with a Cop was held at the DoubleTree.

Visitors were served free coffee and pastries, and the highlight, if not the coffee cup mascot, may have been Officer Hector Santiago’s K-9 partner, Hemi. The dog was a willing recipient for people wanting to pet him.

Santiago said people are often reluctant to come up to him and talk when he’s in uniform without his four-legged partner. When Hemi is at his side, it’s easier to connect.

“It’s good for public relations,” he said.

Hemi posed for photos, including a group shot with members of YouthBuild, a Reading organization that helps people ages 17 to 24 obtain their GED diploma or participate in vocational programs. Jessica Ortiz, a YouthBuild staff member, said events that help young people see the human side of police officers are important.

“It shows them that they’re not ‘sergeant’ or ‘officer’ when they go home to their families,” Ortiz said. “They’re coaches, they’re husbands and wives, and dads and moms.”