Community chats with cops over coffee

By Stephen J. Pytak, Republican Herald
Original article HERE

At a local coffee shop Saturday morning, Linda Friend, Orwigsburg, and others got the opportunity to ask borough police officers about who they are and what they do.

“Have you ever had to use your Taser?” she asked Officer Robert “Bob” Bechtel at the first Coffee with a Cop event at Market Square Coffee House, 118 W. Market St.

Bechtel said he hadn’t. But Officer Tanner Noecker said he had to use his earlier this year.

“I only used mine one time,” he said.

At the time, Noecker was a patrolman in Tamaqua borough.

“It started as an EMS call. When we got there we found one guy was amped up on some kind of narcotic. We tried to escort him out to the ambulance. He started fighting us on the front porch. He was trying to push my partner over the railing. I used the Taser, but it failed. The spread wasn’t very far, so it wasn’t super-effective. Then the guy ripped the probes right out,” he said.

“Wow! So I guess you only have to use the Taser when you have to,” Linda said.

“It’s a level of force. You’re only going to use it if you absolutely have to. We try to get compliance in some other way before we go to it,” Noecker said.

The borough has four full-time police officers. The other two are John Koury, who became the police chief on June 1, and Officer Brandon Bayer.

“We’re hoping to have a fifth full-time officer in the next few months,” Koury said.

The borough also has six part-time officers, including Officer Matt J. Fogarty, who stopped over at Saturday’s event.

Market Square Coffee House is run by Kris and Sean Sadler.

They got the idea to hold the event after talking with Noecker.

“The borough recently hired a new police officer, Tanner Noecker. He came in here one day and approached me with the idea. And I was all for it,” Kris Sadler said.

Noecker said that when he worked for Lower Merion Township police in Montgomery County, that police force had a similar event in their community.

“This was something we were willing to do. And if he was willing to spearhead it and get it set up and organized on their end, I figured by all means let’s do it. I think it’s important for our community to have a relationship with our police officers other than ‘oh my gosh, they’re going to pull me over for speeding’ or what have you,” Kris Sadler said.

“It’s important for us as a smaller department for people here to know us on a first-name basis and be more comfortable with the police; not just to know we’re here, but to know who we are,” Noecker said.

Noecker started working with Orwigsburg borough police in March.

Koury has been a full-time police officer in Orwigsburg for 29 years. He said this is the first time such an event was held.

“Tanner brought this to our attention. This was his idea. At his previous job, he said when they held such events they had a good turnout and good interaction with the public. We want to be more community-oriented. So we think it’s a great idea,” Koury said.

He encouraged people there to speak their minds.

“Any question is a good question, and we’ll try to answer you to the best of our ability,” Koury said.

There was free coffee from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., according to a sandwich board set up outside the business.

“The coffee is being paid for by the police department. It will be our regular house brew coffee,” Kris Sadler said.

Market Square Coffee House serves Toby’s Estate Coffee, based in Brooklyn, New York.

The menu at the coffee house Saturday morning included a breakfast buffet with scrambled eggs, pancakes, kielbasa, sausage, ham, bacon and home fries. The cost was $10.95 for adults and $6.95 for children.

“We don’t usually do breakfast buffets. This is something special for this event. We do all the cooking, so we stay pretty busy,” Kris Sadler said.

Kris and Sean’s daughter, Cheyenne Bowmer, was also there Saturday helping to set up.

“We had a great day. About 50 people came out. Many brought their kids and dogs. The kids were able to sit in the police SUV and check things out inside. It was a wonderful community event,” Kris said.

Kris Sadler hopes to hold the event four times a year.

“The next one will be scheduled in mid-to-late October,” she said.

On Saturday, Friend was there with her husband, Mark. Noecker’s father, George Noecker, Schuylkill Haven, was also there, as was Steward “Stew” Warner, pastor of Salem United Methodist Church, Orwigsburg.

“We learned a lot in the last 10 minutes we were here talking to the officers,” Linda said while drinking an Americano with a bit of sugar.

“I think it’s a great idea for the police to be involved in the community and working to build relationships. The new chief is really going out of his way to do that,” Warner said.

This week, borough police officers will make an appearance at a Bible school class at the church, he said.

“It’s part of a series we call Heroes In The Community,” Warner said.