Break­ing dough

Ce­cil County Cof­fee with a Cop draws nearly 200

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CARL HAMIL­TON ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

ELK­TON — Some law en­force­ment of­fi­cers jok­ingly opined that the event they at­tended Wed­nes­day morn­ing at the Ce­cil County Se­nior Cen­ter near Elk­ton might per­pet­u­ate the stereo­type that cops love their cof­fee and dough­nuts.

But for the scores of res­i­dents who at­tended the in­au­gu­ral “Ce­cil County Cof­fee with a Cop,” a re­laxed fo­rum that al­lowed cit­i­zens to chat with po­lice of­fi­cers over free break­fast food and bev­er­ages, that cliché — if even thought of at all — was over­shad­owed by the re­al­iza­tion that cops are peo­ple, just like them, and that they en­joy in­ter­act­ing with those they have been sworn to serve and to pro­tect.

“They are hu­mans that have a job to do, just like any­one else. It is a very tough job, and they do the best they can,” said Elk­tonarea res­i­dent Ron Stover, who, along with his wife, Doris, and their friend, Fran Easter, spent some time

seated at a table so­cial­iz­ing with North East Po­lice Depart­ment (NEPD) Chief Dar­rell Hamil­ton, whom they had just met.

Stover sug­gested that most peo­ple have en­coun­tered of­fi­cers only through the driver’s side win­dows of their ve­hi­cles dur­ing traf­fic stops for speed­ing or for some other or­di­nary vi­o­la­tion.

“Here, we can just sit and talk to them, in­stead of meet­ing them on the road,” Stover said, adding that the event pro­vided res­i­dents with the op­por­tu­nity to see law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in a “dif­fer­ent light,” as peo­ple who carry out the duty of up­hold­ing the law.

Mary­land State Po­lice Lt. Jeff Kirschner, com­man­der of the North East Bar­rack, agreed that the Cof­fee with a Cop event func­tioned as a way to re­move per­ceived bar­ri­ers be­tween law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and cit­i­zens.

“You don’t call the po­lice on a good day. We usu­ally see peo­ple at their worst times. So this is a good way to build pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple in the com­mu­nity,” Kirschner said.

At one point dur­ing the event, Kirschner paused to talk to North East-area res­i­dent Lawrie Sands, who, ac­cord­ing to the lieu­tenant, sought in­for­ma­tion about the “le­gal­ity of car­ry­ing stun guns.”

Sands was seated at a table with her friends, Beth Greiner and Jeanie Copen­haver, also North East-area res­i­dents.

“The world has got­ten crazy and we need po­lice of­fi­cers more than ever, es­pe­cially us se­nior cit­i­zens,” said Copen­haver, who noted that she works as a se­cu­rity of­fi­cer. “I don’t re­ally do any­thing. I just ob­serve and re­port. But, just from what I’ve seen as a se­cu­rity of­fi­cer, po­lice of­fi­cers have a tough job. We back the blue 100 per­cent.”

Greiner com­mented, “We just wanted to say thank you to all the po­lice of­fi­cers and first re­spon­ders, and this gives us a chance to do that.”

Sands, Greiner and Copen­haver hap­pened to be at the se­nior cen­ter Wed­nes­day to at­tend a ceram­ics class. Many in at­ten­dance have con­nec­tions with the se­nior cen­ter.

Some of the nearly 200 peo­ple who turned out for the event, how­ever, made a spe­cial trip to at­tend Cof­fee with a Cop, after learn­ing about it through so­cial me­dia or some other way.

“I just wanted to shake hands with a cop,” said Cherry Hill res­i­dent David Con­nor, who then chuck­led as he fully dis­closed, “And I wanted to get a dough­nut. They are re­ally good.”

Con­nor said he viewed the event as a “pos­i­tive step to­ward build­ing com­mu­nity re­la­tions.”

Ron Bed­well, who has lived in Elk­ton for nearly 60 years, ven­tured to the se­nior cen­ter after his morn­ing routes as a con­tracted Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools bus driver.

“I saw it on Face­book, that’s the only way I knew about it,” Bed­well said. “I came out to see how many faces I rec­og­nized. This (event) brings the com­mu­nity to­gether and that’s pretty neat.”

Of­fi­cers rep­re­sent­ing the Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, the Ce­cil County Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices, MSP, NEPD and Elk­ton Po­lice Depart­ment min­gled with the cit­i­zens dur­ing the event, which was co-spon­sored by the sher­iff’s of­fice and the Ce­cil County Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices.

The free cof­fee, dough­nuts and other re­fresh­ments were do­nated by East Main Street Cafe of Elk­ton, the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Cof­fee Co. of North East and Rise ‘N Grind Cafe of Ris­ing Sun.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice Lt. Joseph Wil­son (seated) and Sgt. An­gel Valle chat with Cherry Hill res­i­dent David Con­nor, dur­ing the Cof­fee with a Cop event.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

North East Po­lice Depart­ment Chief Dar­rell Hamil­ton laughs with Teresa Gor­don dur­ing Cof­fee with a Cop. Gor­don lived in North East for many years, be­fore mov­ing to Elk­ton. “I don’t get to see him now like I used to. So when I saw him, I just had to go over there and give him a hug,” Gor­don told the Ce­cil Whig. Hamil­ton com­mented, “I’ve known that lady for years and she is a won­der­ful per­son, just lovely. I’m meet­ing new peo­ple to­day and re­con­nect­ing with old friends.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Nancy Harden, a Ce­cil County gov­ern­ment em­ployee, sports an apro­pos Cof­fee with a Cop event. T-shirt dur­ing the

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Mo­ments after meet­ing them for the first time, North East Po­lice Depart­ment Chief Dar­rell Hamil­ton poses with, from left, Elk­ton-area res­i­dents Ron Stover, Fran Easter and Stover’s wife, Doris Stover, dur­ing the Cof­fee with a Cop event.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Brit­tany Schwartz, owner and op­er­a­tor of East Main Street Cafe of Elk­ton, smiles dur­ing the Cof­fee with a Cop event while serv­ing the food and bev­er­ages her busi­ness do­nated for it.

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