‘Coffee with Cops’ event promotes open dialogue

Originally published Sept. 19, 2016 by The State Hornet

Coffee with Cops - Marivel Guzman

Campus police Lt. Christina Lofthouse chats with a Sac State student at the “Coffee with Cops” event in the Wellness Hub on Sept. 14. Photo by Marivel Guzman.

With a humorous nod to the dietary stereotypes of the people in blue, students, staff and campus police came together for donuts, coffee, and dialogue during the annual “Coffee with Cops” event in the Wellness Hub on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

“Coffee with Cops” is hosted by the Student Health and Counseling Services Department as part of Sacramento State’s Week of Welcome.

Approximately 40 students and six police officers packed into the tiny space, drank Starbucks Coffee and ate Marie’s Donuts while discussing police work, campus safety, careers in criminal justice, and any other questions the attendees had for police.

“It’s an [annual event] to sort of facilitate a dialogue between students, staff and the police department to create a culture of care — that we’re here for the students and that their safety is really important to us, and hopefully kind of break down any [misunderstandings] that we might have about police officers,” said Merril Lavezzo, a recently-hired health educator with the Student Health and Counseling Services Department, who was responsible for organizing the event this year.

Police Chief Mark Iwasa said an event like this is important because it helps make the police, who are often busy or unable to stop and speak with students, more approachable.

“Our department has a goal this year of really getting out and being more accessible to students on the campus so that they understand the one thing that we’re here for is to help them,” said Iwasa, who added that most students were asking questions about his career and criminal justice careers in general. “I think one of the problems in law enforcement today is not enough communities have confidence that their [police] departments are here to help them; there’s a little bit of a trust issue. So, we’re trying to make sure that those types of trust issues don’t happen at Sac State.”

Andy Corona, a criminal justice major, said he went to the event to network and learn more about the steps to a career in law enforcement. He added that he talked to Officer Scott Christian about S.W.A.T. teams because he’s interested in that area of law enforcement.

“These officers are really, really cool,” said Corona with a donut in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. “Overall, I think it gives us a really good opportunity to kind of get to know who’s on campus and who we can rely on when we need help here.”

“Coffee with Cops” began at 8:30 a.m. and was supposed to last until 10, but by 9:30, the pink donut boxes were empty and the cardboard coffee containers were depleted. Most of the crowd had also dispersed.

Lavezzo said she was surprised at the number of students in attendance, especially being that it was held early in the morning on a Wednesday, but was pleased that it was a success.

Though the event is usually only held during welcome week, she said she’d be interested in looking into the possibility of offering it more often.

“The most important [objective] was to get folks here and talking with police officers,” Lavezzo said. “I’ve think we’ve gotten that.”

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About Daniel Wilson

I am a student at California State University Sacramento (Sac State) majoring in journalism, pursuing a Bachelor's degree with a minor in communications. Please visit both www.saccitygamer.com and www.dwilsononline.com for more information.
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