SCHERERVILLE — Schererville police took on a different role Tuesday morning at Toast & Jam.
With coffee pots in hand, officers walked through the restaurant alongside servers, greeting local residents with a smile and small chit-chat over breakfast as part of the department's Coffee with a Cop event.
The event is part of the department’s community policing efforts, designed to create trust between the officers and their communities. The Police Department has hosted Coffee with a Cop for the last five years.
Deputy Chief Joseph Gasiorek said the event, which moves around to different restaurants in town, allows the police to be more accessible to Schererville residents who may have safety concerns or questions. Sometimes, residents will even bring forward crime tips to officers, he said.
But the event is “not just all police business though,” said Officer Sam DeCero.
“We want to make sure that community and residents are comfortable about the fact that they can come to police at any time for anything. We are here to help in any way we can,” he said. “For example, last week when it snowed, police were pushing out a car for a stuck resident. We are here for people at all times.”
Some coffeegoers are regulars to the community policing event and some are new. Each gathering brings new faces and new conversations, said Schererville resident Richard Cooper.
Tuesday’s talks included road and traffic concerns with the weather, upcoming events happening in town and neighbors simply checking up on each other, sharing stories about family and friends.
“Our police are the good guys. We come out to show our support for them to build up a rapport,” said Cooper, who police refer to as the Neighborhood Watch Block captain.
“When they host these events and build friendly relationships, all these people become additional eyes for the Police Department. We all watch out for our neighbors and work to keep each other safe.”
Other programs hosted by the department include free self-defense seminars, the Citizens Police Academy and Cop Camp in the summer for middle school kids.
DeCero, who has been an officer with the department for five years, said there is an outstanding partnership between the Schererville police and citizens.
“The residents are awesome. The town is awesome,” DeCero said.