Coffee With Cops Brews Up Good Rapport Between Police And Community

Manchester Police, public officials and staff of The Toast Café assemble during a recent Coffee with Cops event held at the café. (Photo courtesy Manchester Police)

  MANCHESTER – Start with some conversation in a cozy setting, add a little caffeine, police officers and members of the public and you have Coffee with Cops.

  For more than a year now, Manchester’s men and women in blue have been meeting up with residents at various spots around the community ranging from diners, to grocery store parking lots to pizzerias to simply share some beverages and food and listen to their concerns, questions and thoughts.

  Detective Joseph Fastige of the police department’s investigations bureau said the program kicked off about a year ago. “Around November of 2021 after everything started to settle down (from the COVID-19 pandemic) we started to do coffee with a cop once a month in Manchester and Whiting. We try a different section of town.”

Manchester Council Vice President James Vaccaro at far right, joins Mayor Robert Arace and attendees and staff from The Toast Café for a recent Coffee with Cops program. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Sometimes it has been “Pizza with the Police” or “Cookies with a Cop.” “We’ve done that, we had pizza with the police at Linda’s on Route 37 which was better for evening hours. It is important to reach everyone,” Fastige said.

  “Moving forward we definitely want more events on weekends,” the detective added. Chief Robert Dolan announced the most recent Coffee with Cops event was on Saturday at the township’s Dunkin Donuts to accommodate those who couldn’t make it due to working during the weekday.

  “If we do more on the weekends, we have a better chance of people showing up,” Fastige added. 

  Detective Fastige said that he attends the events and “our traffic safety guy, someone from patrol, today we have our SRO (School Resource Officer) and we usually tell everyone during roll call, we’re having coffee with the cops, come on out. We have a patrol sergeant and lieutenants and they mingle.”

  Last month’s Coffee with Cops program was held at a relatively new business in town, The Toast Café at 1900 Route 70 and it also included Chief Dolan, Mayor Robert Arace, Council Vice President James Vaccaro and Councilwoman Michele Zolezi.

  “I run our social media and I get a lot of issues and concerns through there, but they don’t see my face and I don’t see theirs. This is in person and it is actually better as it gives us a chance to talk and conversate and we learn so much about the concerns and issues of Manchester Township. I love it. I’m glad we started it and we’re going to keep doing it,” Fastige said.

Free items provided by the Manchester Township Police were there for the taking during a recent Coffee with Cops event held at The Toast Café. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Along with the officers, there is usually a table featuring a Manchester flag draped over it filled with swag items and useful reading material concerning police and township programs.

  “I learned early on that if you have some swag, some nice cool stuff on the table, people are drawn to it. We have some coffee mugs, Frisbees and some little stuff for the kids,” he added.

  Toast Café owner Yehuda Fryer said he was pleased with the event. “It was very beautiful. People can interact with the cops. Manchester is a small but big town and you don’t always see officers come in to a store and I think Coffee with the Cops is a great idea. We are also giving out reflectors for the Jewish community so on a Friday night when they are walking around, they don’t get hit by a car.”

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  Mayor Arace was also pleased to see the large turnout at the event that brought law enforcement and the community together. Councilwoman Zolezi noted the professionalism and dedication of the police department.

  Chief Dolan told The Manchester Times that the department’s roster is about 72 full time officers and two part-time officers. “I think this is a great outreach and we will continue to do it once a month and will continue to select different locations.”

  “I really like it. I think it is good for the community in general because our officers get out and meet people. The days of foot patrols are long gone. The community engagement that you had is gone due to lack of time but this brings people together,” the chief added.