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From mug shots to mugs and espresso shots

Second Forest Grove 'Coffee with a Cop' draws some enthusiasts

by: NEWS-TIMES: KATE STRINGER - Charles McAvoy recites one of his limericks to Forest Grove Police Chief Janie Schutz at the police departments second Coffee with a Cop event at Maggies Buns last Wednesday.The coffee at Maggie’s Buns was a little black July 2 — not because of what was in the mugs but due to the uniforms of the police officers holding them.

The Forest Grove Police Department hosted its second two-hour “Coffee with a Cop” meeting at the brightly-decorated sandwich shop on 21st Avenue last Wednesday morning, answering questions and making friends with customers as the day began and temperatures soared outside.

“Sometimes the public looks at us as tough guys or even the bad guys,” said Police Chief Janie Schutz, “but when they get the chance to talk with us they realize we’re good guys all around.”

By 9 a.m., Schutz and the handful of other officers with her had talked with about 25 folks curious about police operations. One man asked about when it was appropriate to call 9-1-1, another asked about proper Segway etiquette, and still others kept things conversational, swapping stories about camping and travel in Oregon and across the U.S.

“A lot of people only interact with police when they’re getting a speeding ticket,” said Charles McAvoy of Forest Grove. “Coffee with a Cop is important because it lets people talk with them more comfortably.”

A few customers in baseball caps and blue jeans looked surprised upon entering the shop to find officers in body armor and badges staring back. Schutz was quick to break the ice: “We were looking right for you!” she said with a smile, before explaining why there were officers present and that the morning joe was on them.

“Anyone in uniform is up for grabs,” she said. “The coffee’s free and we’re free to talk with you.”

Coffee with a Cop is one of several initiatives the police department is undertaking to become more approachable to residents. Another program is the virtual ride-along, which launched last month, when Capt. Mike Herb narrated a typical evening shift from the passenger seat of a patrol car via Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s not all about arresting people,” said Schutz. “We’re thinking outside the box to show we’re an integral part of the community.”

Coffee with a Cop is offered quarterly in Forest Grove. The first meeting was at B.J.’s Coffee Co. in April, and the next session will be at Caffe Montecassino in October.

“I think it’s fantastic that the police are here bonding with the community and vice-versa,” said Maggie Pike, owner of Maggie’s Buns. “They support us and we support them.”

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