Mantua Township police officers spent an afternoon with local and area residents over a cup of coffee on Wednesday, Oct. 2, as part of Coffee with a Cop, a nationwide initiative to bring local police and residents together.
Outside the local Wawa on Route 45 in Mantua, police officers hung out with residents, asking questions, taking pictures and getting to know one another.
Matt Ayers, general manager of the Wawa, brought his son Alexander, 6, to say hello to the officers.
“I love having the events for the Coffee with a Cop here because it brings the community in with the police officers,” said Matt. “It’s good for the community.”
Alexander sat in the drivers seat of a police cruiser while Chief Darren White taught him how to operate the siren.
Gabriela Brezanin, 8, who plays soccer for Mantua Township, and her father Sash were getting drinks at Wawa before soccer practice when they stopped to chat with police officers.
“The local police are really good to us,” said Sash.
The event is meant to bring police officers and the community members they serve together over coffee to discuss issues and learn more about each other.
What began as a grassroots initiative in Hawthorn, Calif., in 2011 has now spread across all 50 states and in Canada, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Latin America, according to its website.
“It’s just important to have these kinds of events on a small scale where we can just communicate one-on-one,” said Mantua Township Police Department Lt. Brian Grady.
Mantua joined the success of the initiative three years ago. The department has been trying to add small gatherings more often within the community. Last year, it held an ice cream version of the event titled Protect and Soft Serve at Mi Familia Ice Cream. Last October, it had a Bark-In-The-Park Police K-9 event at Chestnut Branch Park, which invited residents’ dogs to participate in a parade.
Grady says these types of events are meant to allow residents the opportunity to talk to officers and put a face to the name.
“I think it’s important to have that two-way openness with the town,” said Grady.