HOWELL – A local bagel shop recently saw a flurry of police activity, though it was without any cause for alarm.
Howell Police were not called to the scene due to an emergency or criminal misconduct. Instead, the local enforcement agency showed up in full force at Big City Bagels in the Aldrich Shopping Center for a heartwarming event called “Coffee with a Cop.”
“We understand the importance of working with the community and having an outreach program for the community to communicate with police officers,” said Howell Police Chief John Storrow. “This is a friendly way to help officers interact with the public and let the community ask questions or voice concerns about something that’s going on in their neighborhoods.”
Residents of all ages and backgrounds mingled with police officers in a relaxed setting. Among them were a number of parents and young children. Rather than seeing the local men and women in blue as intimidating figures in uniform, the kids openly enjoyed intermingling with them.
Some seized the opportunity to pose for photographs with the officers in front of a large backdrop. Others delighted in the assortment of cool swag, with youngsters grinning as snap bracelets were playfully tossed onto their wrists.
Meanwhile, the local law enforcement agency had an appropriate gift for adults who came out to meet with them. Their takeaways included a coffee mug adorned with the Howell Police shield – a reminder that officers were happy to sit down and chat with them over a simple cup of Joe.
“I’ve always been kind of nervous around cops,” admitted a woman who asked that her name be withheld. “I just happened to come in here for some coffee and saw all of them here. I’m glad I did, as they were all really friendly.”
Officers who appeared at this month’s Coffee with a Cop seemed to be strategically chosen as first-line communicators. They included a school resource officer and members from the Community Services Division and Traffic Bureau.
A man from a nearby adult community intentionally attended the “Coffee with a Cop” event and considered it a great way of connecting with the human face of law enforcement. Alex Sahlman quickly spoke with the police chief and reminded him of a previous meeting.
“I was part of the Howell Citizens Academy before it was cut short during COVID,” Sahlman shared. “It was basically a program for residents to get an inside look of the various departments. I especially enjoyed the tour of headquarters and found the communication center to be extraordinary.”
Howell Police first initiated the nationally recognized Coffee with Cop event a number of years ago. However, a recent Meet the Chief and Coffee with a Cop gathering at the Kava Coffee House last month seemed to have upset some community members, who took to social media to express their concerns.
The Lakewood Scoop, Perfect Restoration & Cleaning, WESHOOT, and the Scoop Outdoor sponsored the Kava event. Meanwhile, a billboard announcement of the meet-up led to inquiries from a limited number of individuals curious about the advertising costs and the sign’s location.
“The Lakewood Scoop advertised the event in many places,” acknowledged Storrow. “One of them was the billboard on the Howell-Lakewood border.”
“Howell taxpayers did not pay for any advertising for that billboard at all,” Storrow emphasized.
Storrow said he is determined to restore his department’s morale following his predecessor’s contentious departure. The “Coffee with Cops” events serve as just one of the tools in achieving this goal by bridging the gap between law enforcement and the community.
The informal meeting with officers benefited residents by giving them a chance to learn more about those dedicated to serving and protecting their community. The gathering also appeared to positively impact the officers in attendance as community members expressed their appreciation.