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Coffee-cop program starts brewing in Cornelius

Program follows in footsteps of events in Hillsboro, Forest Grove


NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: ART HEERWAGEN - At last Fridays Coffee With a Cop event at Starbucks in Cornelius, resident Juana Buhr (2nd from left) tells Officer Johnny Cage (left) that she teaches as many as 40 children of migrant families who are in Washington County during the summer months. Meanwhile, Joan Schouweiler (3rd from left) gets to know Officer Eamon OBrian (right), telling him she saw the events flyer at WalMart. Cornelius police officers are getting on the “Coffee With a Cop” bandwagon. 

The program was started in 2011 by the Hawthorne, Calif., police department using the slogan, “Building trust with our community — one cup at a time,” said Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Al Roque, who organized the event.

Forest Grove and Hillsboro started holding Coffee With a Cop events more than a year ago. The program is active in 175 other cities and 36 states.

The Cornelius department’s inaugural event was last Friday, May 29, at the Starbucks on Baseline Street. The 13-member department used social media, fliers and newspaper stories to invite residents to stop in from 9 to 11 a.m. for a free cup of coffee and the chance to chat.

“The concept of the event is to improve relationships between police and the community,” Roque said. “No agenda or speeches, just a chance to ask questions and get to know the deputies in their neighborhood.”

Juana Buhr was one of roughly 50 to 60 people who walked through the door during those two hours — some to get their usual morning coffee and nibble on a pastry while reading the newspaper, others to simply shake hands with the officers and thank them for the service they provide.

Buhr helps teach migrant workers’ children during the summer and “just wanted to remind the officers these families are here and need any help and support they can give,” she said while chatting with deputy Johnny Cage. “I enjoyed getting to know officer Cage,” she added.

“This is great,” said Cornelius residents Richard and Joan Schouweiler. “It’s good to see community members and officers sitting together, having a cup of coffee and talking.”

Banks resident Marni Henrickson used the event to talk with officers about bicycle and motorcycle safety.

“With all that’s recently been in the news about bike accidents and a fatality,” she said, “I think we need to do something to make both motorists and cyclists aware of just how dangerous these activities are.”

Overall, Roque said he was pleased with the turnout.

“We’re hoping the word about Coffee With A Cop spreads, and that more of our neighbors will become friendly acquaintances,” Roque said.

He added he’d like to hold the event at least every quarter, on different days, at different times and in different locations.

Several deputies said they and their colleagues were concerned that most residents’ interaction with law enforcement tends to occur during emergencies or adverse and emotional situations.

They liked how the coffee event gave citizens a chance to talk face-to-face with them in a non-threatening environment.

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  • 29 Jul 2015

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  • 30 Jul 2015

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