Coffee with a Cop a success

Aaron Moss, Roger Hutchinson, Greg Johnson, Aaron Bowles and Ann Millerbernd, FOP-Souris Valley Regional Lodge #7, Executive Board

On Thursday, August 1, area law enforcement officers joined with Starbucks Coffee Company at 1340 South Broadway in Minot to host another Coffee with a Cop event. For those unfamiliar with this program, Coffee with a Cop began in 2011 as a community outreach effort by officers of the Hawthorne, Calif., Police Department. The event is most effective in its simplicity; just informal conversations between law enforcement and members of the public over a cup of coffee. The lack of formality invites spontaneous conversations often leading to understanding and problem solving. In fact, it’s become so successful these events are now held in all 50 states and in 22 different countries.

The Fraternal Order of Police – Souris Valley Regional Lodge #7 was proud to have members participating in this event. The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor representation organization in the world with over 330,000 members. Souris Valley Regional Lodge #7 has about 140 members from federal, state, county and city law enforcement agencies throughout northwest and northcentral North Dakota. When this event was being coordinated, it was right on the heels of an incident in Tempe, Arizona where several officers, who had paid for and were enjoying their coffee, were asked to leave a Starbucks location by an employee after being approached by another customer complaining that the officers mere presence made the customer uncomfortable. This incident sparked a strong public debate, particularly after the officers’ department and union made their displeasure with the officers’ treatment publicly known. Thankfully, Starbucks’s Executive Vice President Rossann Williams immediately took responsibility and apologized to the officers in Tempe.

Locally, in Minot, many of our lodge members enjoy and frequent Starbucks both on and off duty. We have never once been made to feel unwelcome or in any way mistreated when we’ve done so. We are also united in the belief that while the employee conduct in Tempe was wrong, one poor behavior choice by a single employee (or even a few) does not reflect on the policy or culture of an entire organization or profession. Nobody understands this more than law enforcement officers who are often called upon to answer for, or are targeted with hateful speech, and too often dangerous and deadly conduct, in response to the misdeeds of police officers they don’t even know, from other departments, and are often in other states.

This latest Coffee with a Cop event reinforced a few things that our lodge already knew. First, our members enjoy, and are grateful for, a relationship of strong mutual respect with the communities we serve. Second, we recognize the value of this event when it comes to maintaining and increasing this mutual respect and trust. And third, we recognize Starbucks in Minot is a good neighbor and supportive of this effort.

We wish to express our gratitude to Kristi Rosselli, Starbucks Manager, for being so eager to partner with local law enforcement to host such a successful event. We also would like to thank Kristi’s staff for working so hard to provide a fun, respectful, and inclusive space for law enforcement officers and all other members of our community, not only during this event, but every day. And most importantly, we want to thank those in the community who took the time to visit with and chat with our members during this event. We continue to look forward to joining in more Coffee with a Cop events.