SCHENECTADY — Cops get coffee.
And when they do, they inevitably chat with other people getting coffee.
So it was only natural the city Police Department formalized the impromptu chats law enforcement members have with the public as part of their new “Coffee with a Cop” series.
“This is really a formal version of what we do all the time,” said Police Chief Eric Clifford. “Whenever we go into coffee shops, people ask questions and engage with you.”
City police have partnered with Stewart’s to host the event. The second session was held Thursday morning at the convenience store’s Broadway location in the city's Bellevue neighborhood, where a smattering of customers interacted with patrol officers.
Alectra Brown sat with her uncle and kids playing scratch-off lottery tickets, their morning ritual.
“It gives people the opportunity to know cops and to talk with them,” Brown said. “I think it’s really nice, a good opportunity.”
The series is designed to foster positive interactions and feedback, said Lt. Ryan Macherone, and builds on efforts to build an open dialogue with the community.
Stewart’s is an ideal partner because there’s one in every neighborhood and serves as a hub, police say.
The first event was held at the store’s Brandywine Avenue location.
Feedback generated at the events largely breaks down along quality-of-life issues and simple “nice to meet you” conversations, said Sgt. Nick Mannix.
Others ask about the job, and people always want to see the cars, he said.
Most people entering the store on Thursday exchanged friendly banter with the officers and brass. Others issued tight smiles but opted not to visit.
Macherone said doesn’t think it would be intimidating for people to walk in and see a roomful of cops.
“It breaks down barriers,” Macherone said. “It becomes a lot less intimidating situation.”
Hugo Peterselgh, 4, sat in a patrol car, wide-eyed and wearing a junior-sized police uniform.
“He’s fascinated with police,” said David Castericone, his grandfather. “He’s always wanted to be a policeman. The first time he got this outfit, he wouldn’t take it off for four days.”
Other passersby walked up and offered commentary on the police vehicles.
Clifford said the community support is appreciated, particularly considering the tenor of the national conversation regarding law enforcement issues.
“It’s refreshing,” he said. “Sometimes it does get you worried about the profession and the way it’s going.”