Santa Clara residents were up and out of the house early for Coffee with a Cop at Holders Mission City Grill, 2000 El Camino Real, in Santa Clara Town Centre, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Jan. 27.
The popular restaurant was abuzz as members of the Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) mingled with early bird residents. Some residents dropped by just to meet a cop face to face and say a quick “Hi.” Others lingered over breakfast (Dutch treat), asking questions and discussing concerns. Many thanked the SCPD for its service to the city.
“It’s a really good event,” said Santa Clara Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Stanley Rose, stopping by for a few minutes before work. “It promotes good relationships. The police are always promoting good relationships with our students. This just makes everybody feel like a community.”
“It’s a great turnout for our second event,” said Lt. Dan Moreno, who discussed crime prevention with a woman whose house had been burglarized.
“Citizens are our best witnesses. It’s always worth a call to the police to check something out. It’s not a waste of our time. Tips that seem benign can turn into something helpful,” said Moreno. “We can’t be everywhere, so it’s helpful to have observant citizens call us when they see something out of the ordinary.”
“It’s good to be here, but I had to wake up early,” said Clara Carrasco, sitting at a table drinking coffee with Assistant Chief Dan Winter. Her written list of discussion topics included helicopters flying over her home, cars with out-of-state license plates and unlicensed bicycles.
“This has been great. We’ve had several people walk up and thank us,” said Winter, just back from assisting at the nearby Pete’s Coffee, where a man had been choking.
“They’re putting me in the hot seat here,” said Officer Stephen Selberg at another table
“We’re just asking him everything,” said Doug Rowlett, sitting with Dennis Der, who had a concern about traffic on El Camino Real. Dave Stealey was waiting his turn to talk about an ongoing parking problem in his neighborhood near Stevens Creek Blvd.
Albert Mendez chatted over breakfast.
“This is a really great program because it puts a human face on the police officers and makes them more familiar. It personalizes the experience without being pulled over. You get to have a conversation with them,” said Mendez.
“I have a lot of respect for the police,” he continued. “They have a job that’s hard. We should know the people who are working for us, even if they are authority figures. Encounters like this help ease that.”
SCPD’s Coffee with a Cop program was launched Oct. 7, 2016, on the first National Coffee with a Cop Day. The national day was organized by the U.S. Department of Justice in partnership with Hawthorne, CA, which created the program in 2011 to ease tensions between police and the community. The program has since spread to about 2,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and nine other countries.
“I believe this is a great opportunity to meet with the people who help protect me,” said Linda Zazzara. “When the community works together with the police, it makes everything better. I think the Santa Clara police are the best I’ve ever met. They’re engaged in the community. They’re there, and they’re caring.”
The Jan. 27 coffee was the first of six coffees planned for 2017, with dates and locations to be announced. Chat with the Chief (Michael Sellers) is scheduled for Feb. 8, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Central Park Library, 2635 Homestead Rd.
“I came to thank these men and women for keeping our city safe and for all they do to help us. I feel like we live in a very safe city, and I think a lot has to do with the vigilance of our police department,” said Debbie Doeltz.