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Police host Coffee With a Cop at HTC
Chris Perry
Over cups of coffee, Lee Brandt (left) talks to Ceres Police Lt. Chris Perry during Coffee with a Cop on Stonum Road. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

A light showing of members of the public mingled with Ceres Police Department personnel at yesterday's two-hour Coffee With a Cop event. The event was held at Witmer Hall at Howard Training Center from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Most of those who showed up for the coffee are established supporters of the department. Some attended to share concerns about crime in their part of Ceres.

The event gave police volunteer Julia Kondratyuk to explain what she and other volunteers do for the department. Volunteers in Public Service (VIPS) often are called on for traffic control at special events such as Christmas Tree Lane, assist with the annual Halloween Festival, help as the eyes and ears for officers, issue certain tickets for non-moving violations and duties within the police headquarters.

Kondratyuk also got to learn more about the Howard Training Center hall, which is tucked away out of view on Stonum Road, but available for renting out for community functions.

Planning Commissioner Gary Del Nero, a reserve Sheriff's deputy who is in charge of the STARS program, came by to enjoy coffee and support the officers.

Also dropping by was Officer Dan Graziose with his new canine, Klouse, who has been on the job for three months. The dog, which got the attention of the gathering with loud barks, so far has assisted in one criminal apprehension after an officer was assaulted and participated in multiple tracks of suspects.

"He uses French, German, some Dutch and a lot of redneck-anese," said Officer Graziose. "I like to work him mostly off of voice discrimination. I prefer to bring him to English because if I'm stressed I might not remember Dutch or German commands. He can discriminate between my voice and your voice."

The department initiated its Coffee With a Cop program in 2013. Ceres police decided to start staging the coffee events as a way 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.

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.

The event has been hosted at restaurants in the past, including Farmer Boys, the McDonald's at Whitmore Avenue and Morgan Road, and Supermom's Frozen Yogurt.