CALEXICO — The Calexico Police Department broke the ice with some of the Calexico community during the department’s first “Raspados with a Cop” event held Monday evening at Raspados Cuchis.
Sgt. Victor E. Legaspi, Jr. said he was inspired by all of the Coffee with a Cop events other cities have done in the Valley and across the country.
Calexico has held two different coffee events in the past, but Legaspi wanted Calexico PD to have something different from the other cities, so he partnered with Raspados Cuchis to sponsor the first “Raspados with a Cop,” a unique idea for the city.
“It’s meant to build a positive relationship with the police and the community,” said Legaspi. “It shows the community that we are here for them and that we’re not just here to arrest people, but also here if they have questions.”
On Monday the community was invited to come in, get raspados, and either chat or simply hang out with the police officers. Many people had questions for the officers, who were ready to answer. Some people were surprised there were police in the shop, but were quick to start asking questions.
“It’s exciting because I can talk to them or ask questions,” said nine-year-old Iancarlo.
“There is so much negativity right now and this helps change that,” commented Daniela Murillo. “People should be more together with the police officers because they are here for us.”
“They help the community,” said Cindy Santoyo. “They are people just like everyone else.”
Officer Celia Romero said this kind of program helps the police learn what is going on in the city, especially with the younger age groups, since Raspados Cuchis is considered a hang-out spot.
“It’s a great way us to approach the community,” said Officer Romero.
Two officers stated they like talking to people when on patrol all the time. Officer Antonio Gonzalez, one of the newer recruits to Calexico PD, recounted one time when he was on patrol with another officer and people would walk over and have conversations with his partner. It’s something he thinks is good for both the police and the community.
“People are sometimes too afraid to report crimes, but with these connections, it helps and the people can become more comfortable with the police department,” said Officer Antonio Gonzalez.
“It’s important right now for us to reach out, especially right now, when a lot of people in the country have such a negative view of police officers,” said Officer Michael Cruz. “Just because we carry a badge and a gun, we are not different.”
This kind of event is especially important, according to City Council member Armando Real, since the Calexico PD has faced recent negative press such as FBI investigations, management issues, and more.
“The people need to understand that was a bad patch in the past, and the police department is no longer in that predicament,” said Real. “More than anything, they need to change that perception and help the community.”
Legaspi said the Calexico PD is planning to have more events like this one in the future.