What happens at ‘Coffee with A Cop?’

Residents sat alongside police officials for an open discussion Wednesday morning.

Residents sat alongside police officials for an open discussion Wednesday morning.

By Bill Rams and Anthony F. Irwin

Police Chief Raul Quezada has made his number one priority clear: Community engagement.

The idea of engagement is on display around the clock in Anaheim. You might see a motorcycle officer at an elementary school interacting with children and families. You might see officers leading students in push-ups and sit-ups after school as part of the junior cadet program.

And you should consider attending one of the police department’s popular Wednesday morning “Coffee with a Cop” gatherings. Last week’s edition at Loara Elementary School provided a snapshot of the engagement Quezada hopes to achieve.

“Communication is critical to our success,” Ret. Sgt. Michael Bustamante told the 20 parents who attended. “We can’t be everywhere at all times and the information you provide us in settings like this can go a long in way in making us a more efficient police department.”

The session began with Bustamante, who now serves as a reservist, showing residents how to access crime information on-line using APD’s crime mapping software. Det. Laura Lomeli – who translated for Spanish speakers – covered the Orange County Family Justice Center’s services, including the youth violence prevention program and victim assistance.

But these coffee gatherings aren’t one-way communications. Officers want to hear from residents, and they especially want tips on how they can do a better job providing service.

They received some feedback last week. A few admitted hesitating before calling for help because they fear retribution.  Some had a misperception that police personnel couldn’t speak Spanish. One person said a dispatcher was rude.

Lomeli and Bustamante didn’t duck the criticism.

“When you bring these things to our attention it makes us better at our jobs,” Bustamante said, noting that several dispatchers speak a variety of languages – and their behavior is monitored. Rudeness is not tolerated, he said.

He encouraged residents to be confident in calling police.

Terrell Shockley, 35, an Anaheim resident of 18 years, told his neighbors that standing by and doing nothing out of fear only enables trouble-makers to continue making trouble.

Afterward, he said he appreciated the dialogue.

“The more information (APD) brings up like this, the better it can be between all of us,” he said. “Meetings like these go a long way in empowering us with the confidence that we know you support us.”

To attend the next Coffee with a Cop or engage with police at another event, visit the police department’s website at http://www.anaheim.net/event/default.asp

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