Police Department

Coffee With a Cop

Section 1

Bessolo offering coffee to patrons

Coffee with A Cop was launched in Hawthorne, California in 2011, as a result of a brainstorming session. Members of the Hawthorne Police Department were looking for ways to interact more successfully with the citizens they served each day. Community policing has long been considered a framework for establishing trust between the community and the police. However, over time the character and composition of our nation’s communities have changed due to shifting demographics, more commuters, and the introduction of different communication methods such as websites and social media. In less than five years, Coffee with a Cop events have been hosted in all 50 states and is one of the most successful community oriented policing programs across the country. The program has also expanded to outside the Unites States to Canada, Europe, Australia, and Africa.  

Barbari speaking with a student

The key to Coffee with a Cop’s growing success is that it opens the door for interactions outside of the crisis situations that typically bring law enforcement officers and community members together. Coffee is the mechanism. It’s the conversation that starts as a result of the coffee. The events are informal and don’t take much work to set up. For our inaugural event, Sergeant Park took the lead by partnering with Craig Takata, the franchise owner of Chick-fil-A, to coordinate the day and time to bring this fun event to UCI which was also attended by officer Bessolo, Gomex, and Dispatcher Barbari. Chick-fil-A offered the free coffee while our officers and staff delivered them to each table to spark conversation with students and other community members. The most memorable moment came when Officer Gomex discovered that it was a student’s birthday to which he decided to loudly announce it to the entire restaurant and asked everyone to join him in singing happy birthday to her. Although she was visibly embarrassed, it was all in good humor and fun as Officer Gomex did an extraordinary job to create a positive image for our department, not only to the student, but to the entire restaurant that afternoon. Conversations throughout the afternoon were casual in nature ranging from students inquiring about a career in law enforcement to officers asking about students’ ambitions after graduation. Due to the success of this event, it’s created the momentum for Sergeant Park to already begin planning the second event during fall quarter.