Free coffee and talk flowed freely during Wednesday morning's second-ever "Coffee with a Cop" event hosted by Supermom's Frozen Yogurt.
Ceres Police Department dispatched a small army of patrol officers, sergeants, lieutenants and chiefs to meet with the public to renew friendships as well as share concerns.
Sabrina Rodriguez of Fox 40 broadcast from the live event and enjoyed Coey Henson's police canine, Dex.
Ceres Police held their first "Coffee with a Cop" on July 24 at the west Ceres McDonald's.
Lt. Brent Smith said the national program is designed to build relationships in the informal, neutral setting.
"We're trying to build public trust which we always work on," said Lt. Brent Smith.
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. The program has been offered in over 175 other cities because it removes the physical barriers and crisis situations that routinely define interactions between law enforcement officials and community members. The intent is to allow the informal contact increase trust in police officers as individuals.
"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," stated Ceres Police Chief Art de Werk. "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."
Len Shepherd turned out and said not only was it fun but he encouraged others to get more involved.
"They're all cops but they're people and they've got lives," said Shepherd. "It's fun getting to know them as people. They have jobs to do which is to protect the public from scumbags."
A retired California forestry department firefighter, Shepherd is trying to talk Ceres Fire from conducting a similar type of event such as open houses.
Don Dean, a 23-year resident of Ceres and member of the American Legion, came down to chat with officers.
"I'm pleased with the department," Dean said. "They have good leadership, inspired leaders."
Pat Bain, a Seventh Street resident, also turned out to share his concerns about what the department is doing to head off the growing tide of illegal marijuana grows and home invasion robberies. He said he and his brother - who lives down the street - keep an eye on suspicious people and report them.
"They have good response time," offered Bain. "It's tough when they're so busy now but they do good.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. to coordinate.
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.