By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Food and beverages bring people together. It’s no different for local police and the public who occasionally meet in the city over cups of coffee, scoops of ice cream and slices of pizza.
As patrons came in and got their coffee at Biggby Wednesday morning, they had a chance to share concerns with local police officers.
“We’ve had a few discussions about things,” Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said as he stood holding his first cup of coffee for the day. “Parking is a hot topic.”
It didn’t really matter that the police have nothing to do with the rules – other than enforcing them.
What mattered was the townspeople and police were talking.
“It’s about interaction with the public,” BG Police Lt. Dan Mancuso said. “People can discuss concerns in a more comfortable environment than calling the police department.”
That’s exactly what Bowling Green City Council member Bill Herald wants to see in the police division.
“We want to have a police force where people don’t hesitate to call,” Herald said as he talked with Lt. Brad Biller, who was on his third cup of caffeine for the day. “This is what we want in a police department.”
The police division holds a “coffee with cops” once or twice a year. The division also held an “ice cream with cops” event at the library last year for younger community members.
At Biggby Coffee on Wednesday were five city officers and four Bowling Green State University officers.
“We partner all the time on different things,” Hetrick said about the teamwork between the two police departments.
“Anytime we have an opportunity to meet the public and have an honest conversation, that’s important,” BGSU Police Chief Mike Campbell said. “We continue to look for those opportunities.”
Last week, the campus police gave away about 200 slices of pizza to students in the BGSU union.
Herald inquired Wednesday morning about the number of citizens who had mentioned police officers’ fondness for doughnuts.
“But the stereotype is true,” Hetrick said with a smile. “I guess that makes it a fact.”
Ann Rieman and Kristen Strum came in for coffee – not knowing about the opportunity to share a cup with city cops. Both said they appreciated the effort the police division makes to be a friendly face in local schools.
“I know they have had a presence in the schools a lot. We appreciate that,” Strum said.
That friendly interaction helps pave the way to good relationships between youth and police later, Rieman said. “They aren’t nervous when they see police officers.”