BRAWLEYÂ – The Starbucks in Brawley was filled with the cityâ€™s officers in blue during the first â€œCoffee With a Copâ€ event held August 22 to help foster and strengthen the relationship between the Brawley Police Department and the community they serve.
Community members entered the coffee shop to have a cup while also holding conversations with Brawley PD officers. There were questions, and concerns were voiced as well as praise along with just normal conversations in the coffee shop between officers and members of the community. It also gave residents a chance to meet the people behind the badge.
Maria Morales said she brought her three-year-old grandson, Mason, so he could shake hands and talk to the officers a bit.
â€œI wanted him to not be afraid and to know that they are the good guys,â€ said Morales.
Officer Dean Beckwith, who admitted he frequents Starbucks himself, said he saw this event as a great way for people to see the police department in a positive light.
â€œThey get to see the people behind the badge,â€ said Beckwith.
Officer Mike Sandoval, the man behind the idea, said he was inspired to have the “Coffee with a Cop” as a way to improve relations with the Brawley community.
â€œWe just wanted to have this opportunity so we could informally meet with the community, hear some concerns, get feedback, because it helps us become a better department and provide better service. And what better way than over coffee?â€ said Sandoval.
Brawley PD Commander Brett Houser said the Brawley department enjoys a very good relationship with the community of Brawley. Everyone knows each other as they run into people in the street, and are able to interact with officers on a daily basis.
This allows the police department to better serve the people of Brawley, he said. Houser also said his officers are known for being very approachable if anyone is in trouble or has a simple question, and he is proud of that.
â€œEvents like these bring a familiarity and reality to the relationships in Brawley,â€ said Houser. â€œThis reminds us that relationship is ongoing and it doesnâ€™t just start today and doesnâ€™t end tomorrow.â€
Chrystal Alcala, whose husband owns the barber shop on the Brawley Plaza, said the police officers have always looked out for her family. She said Brawley officers found the door to the shop unlocked one night, and officers were there at the house to let her husband know.
â€œTheyâ€™ve always been good to my husband,â€ said Alcala. â€œWhen they notice anything suspicious they let us know.â€
Agent Brian Harsany said events like this are what help improve public opinion on police officers.
â€œIf the community will come and sit with us, maybe they can change their minds,â€ said Harsany. â€œWe are here to serve them.â€
â€œEveryone seems to like the PD,â€ said Brawley Mayor Sam Couchman. â€œI think we have a great police department. In fact, I hardly ever receive complaints about them.â€