Cecil County Coffee with a Cop draws nearly 200
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 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.
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.”
Nancy Harden, a Cecil County government employee, sports an apropos Coffee with a Cop event. T-shirt during the
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.
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.