Cops enjoy a cup of coffee and some gab with citizens

By Maunette Loeks, Scottsbluff Star Herald
Original article HERE

Doughnuts and coffee were on the menu and topics of conversation included concealed carry, community events and even fishing stories as Scottsbluff Police officers came together with the public during Coffee with a Cop Thursday.

It’s the third time the Scottsbluff Police Department has hosted the event with a business partner, Scottsbluff Police Chief Kevin Spencer said. This time, Route 26 Mart hosted the event and people greeted police officers as they stopped by to grab a soda or sat down and enjoyed some gab with a patrol officer or investigator.

Robert Bonnes and Mike Stover said they came to visit with police officers and were enjoying telling fishing stories and joking about other topics with Capt. Tony Straub.

“We just wanted to visit and thank the officers for what they do,” Stover said.

Bonnes joked that he has not had a traffic ticket since he was 12 years old, so he was happy with the police.

“It’s a hard job and they do a good job,” Bonnes said.

The Coffee with a Cop is one of the community events the police department has implemented to enhance its community policing, a strategy that focuses on building ties in the community with citizens. Spencer said the event is modeled after a similar one started, and regularly hosted, by a California department. Similar Coffee with a Cop events are held throughout the nation.

“Community policing has become a big part of what we do,” Spencer said. “We want to make sure that the community is coming to us, expressing their opinions and concerns.”

Admittedly, Spencer said, most of the conversations that are had at Coffee with a Cop are “neighborly conversations.” People ask general questions or provide general comments, usually thanking officers for their service.

Route 26 Mart owner Anthony Parra said that the business agreed to host the event to thank the police department for its service through the years. The convenience store did experience a robbery in December, for which Parra said officers “were great,” but he said officers have done a lot for the store even before that.

“They have met me down here many times, late at night, answering an alarm or coming whenever we need them,” he said. “They never fail to assist. (Hosting the event) is a small token of our appreciation.”

Spencer said all three Coffee with a Cop events have been fairly well-attended and he plans to continue them, hoping to have them on a regular basis in the future.