Community Policing: Coffee with a Cop

By M.R. Lee, Fort Morgan Times
Original article HERE

Fort Morgan Officer Kaden Shuttleworth takes the opportunity to talk to Janice McFarland during Coffee with a Cop Thursday, Dec. 20, at Burger King.Some early-morning customers at Burger King may have had to do a double-take Thursday morning.

Instead of employees many customers greet on a daily basis, some were replaced by Fort Morgan police officers. Some officers worked behind the counter and others served food through the drive-up window. Still others greeted customers as they entered the store.

It was another “Coffee with a Cop” community policing effort by the Fort Morgan Police Department.

There have been almost a dozen such events in town at various locations throughout the year. The events are designed to place police officers in contact with the public. Events might bring in 15-50 people during an hour.

Those attending might be a customer stopping in for breakfast, and others might have a concern to share or want an answer to a question.

“We like to hear from the community,” Chief of Public Safety Paul Schultz said. “We like to give out information.”

For Officer Anthony Chaparro, it was his first “Coffee with a Cop.” He enjoyed the opportunity and thought it was fun, he said. All of the officers greeted customers as they entered the restaurant.

“We are big on community policing and meet all kinds of people in all different settings,” Schultz said. “The ‘Coffee with a Cop’ program has been very successful. I have yet to meet anybody who doesn’t love it. At McDonald’s, we meet a lot of people who are from out of state and tell how they want to take this idea back to their hometown.”

The program was launched in 2011 in Hawthorne, California. Departments in all 50 states now participate in the program.

“Coffee with a Cop” is diversified in Fort Morgan with the location changing during each event.

“We try to hit all of the restaurants and coffee shops that have breakfast,” Sgt. Steve Brown said.

Burger King gave customers a chance to see officers in a different setting. They were invited behind the counter by General Manager DaRon Webb.

“I thought it was a lot of fun,” he said. “I really enjoyed this.”