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'Coffee with a Cop' set for July 24
Coffee with a Cop is a program that is nationwide but just now being introduced by the Ceres Police Department.

The community is invited to come out to sip coffee and chat with Ceres police officers informally and discuss topics of concern on Wednesday morning, July 24.

Officers will be at the McDonald's at 1280 E. Whitmore Avenue in Ceres from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to discuss community issues and build relationships in the informal, neutral setting. The new "Coffee with a Cop" program is designed to allow community members to ask questions, share concerns, learn more about Ceres Police Department's work in Ceres neighborhoods, and get to know officers.

"We look forward to these visits and the opportunity to reestablish connections with the people of Ceres," stated Ceres Police Chief Art de Werk. "Our overriding goal is to make up for the fact that it can be difficult to connect with officers in a more social context when they are often in vehicles running from call to call to call in the performance of their regular duties. We hope to take the mystique out of who and what kinds of people police officers are and I believe you will find that they are humans just like everybody else, who care deeply about the community they serve."

DeWerk said that the majority of contacts people have with law enforcement officers is largely negative since they center on emergencies, undesired traffic stops or other emotional situations.

"Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship-building with the community they serve and some may feel that officers on the street are unapproachable," he said. "'Coffee with a Cop' breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction."

More coffees will be scheduled in the near future. Ceres businesses interested in hosting future coffees are encouraged to contact Lt. Brent Smith at 538-5721 or email to coordinate.

A Spanish-speaking officer will also be available to visit.

Coffee with a Cop is a national initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Similar events are being held across the country, as local police departments strive to make lasting connections with the communities they serve.