Coffee with a Cop: promoting a genial image of the police

The library had some special visitors on October 3, as some members of the Washburn police, clad in uniform and gear, came to have a chat and let people ask questions about anything and everything in an event titled “Coffee with a Cop.” True to the name, there stood a coffee stand with piping hot black coffee to bring warmth to the morning chill and the conversations that took place then.

As they poured coffee into cups, quite a few people warmed up to the cheery officers in uniform who were ready to have a conversation. Most of the visits were made by students. Some were eager to share their stories about their police background, as they talked about how their relatives served in the police. Some tried to gain insight into the inner workings of the police department. Some wanted to take selfies with the officers. One of the students even sat down to draw a portrait of Sergeant Drew Liggett., who, at the student’s request, stood at a spot for over 20 minutes.

This was a testimony to the genial atmosphere of the meet-and-greet event. And that was exactly the atmosphere the cops were trying to create. This event was part of an ongoing nationwide effort to shed an empathetic light on police officers.

Officer Anthony Escalante emphasized that “Coffee with a Cop” is a good way to bridge the gap between the public and the police.

“Usually, the only time people get to come in contact with us is when there is a crime going on,” said Escalante. “This event is a way to show that we are human too and we are trying to help people. We don’t go looking for people to arrest.”

Sergeant Liggett echoed that sentiment, saying that officers do more than just arrest people. Him standing still for a students sketch is just one example of their daily actions that don’t involve crime.

“Nobody sees us doing mundane things like walking people to their cars because they feel unsafe. That doesn’t make the news,” said Liggett.

Their primary goal is to ensure the safety of the students, and if students feel safe when officers come to talk to them or assist them in unlocking their cars or escorting them at night, then they have gone a long way to doing their jobs right. Instead of appearing as daunting figures to be revered, this display of their humanity helps their jobs. Events like these a created to promote that image.