LAPD Senior Lead Officer, Gary Verge (right) and a fellow LAPD meet and greet McDonalds customers during an event that brought over 35 police officers to the Crenshaw and Florence restaurant.
If you happen to see a gathering of police officers hanging and sipping coffee at your local McDonalds, don’t be alarmed, the LAPD is trying to get to know you better. And they are doing so through Winchell’s, Starbucks, and McDonald’s Restaurants and various venues throughout LA. “Coffee with Cops,” is spawned and launched from an initiative created by Mayor Eric Garcetti, which suggests more interaction with the LAPD and people they serve. This means creating a balance between enforcing the law, building relationships, and respecting communities.
Some franchise owners have reached out to LAPD, inviting them inside their businesses and hoping the community takes advantage of the opportunity to interact on common ground. The LADP wants to clean up their image, particularly with national stories of police brutality causing a stir with African Americans. “We want to interact with the community on a human level. Get to know people and get them to know us,” Said, Gary Verge, Senior Lead Officer, 77th division.
Approximately 35 police officers and officials met with McDonald’s costumers, who were initially taken-aback by the LAPD’s immense presence. Some officers greeted people outside but some drive-through costumers declined ordering and drove away. The officers were in good spirits about it, one even blurting out, and “This isn’t a check point.” But reality is some community members are hesitant about interacting with the police and there is work yet to be done.
Police Officer, Murakami, greets and shares his card with a McDonald’s drive-through customer.
Inside the restaurant, free coffee and pastries lured willing costumers and “Coffee with Cops” was in action. Dougvon Jackson, an African American male, AGE, sat with officers for over an hour. “I was raised around 77th street division. I’ve been a person who sees an officer [as a person who] has a job to do,” he said. Storeowners welcome interaction between police and their costumers. For some, this was the first time speaking to an on-duty officer in a less intimidating experience. “We are celebrating our success as far as the relationship between our community and the 77th division police officers, says,“ Donald Bailey Sr. Owner, McDonalds Restaurant on 71st and Crenshaw.
Bailey took the initiative in inviting Captain lll, Cory Palka and his 77th Div. Staff to restaurant. He values the opportunity in partnering with the LAPD and wants officers to be more knowledgeable about the community they work in. “Get out of the car, maybe walk a block or two, shake hands with the business owners and residents,” Bailey said. According to Officer Verge, the 77th Division visits a business once a month in an on-going effort to outreach, and finds the response is mostly positive. “It’s a misnomer that we [LAPD] is not popular in the streets. The community at large loves us. We have youth programs and many community based activities, “ he said.
LAPD Officers, Andre Dixon (right) and Rebecca Martin (middle) do double duty behind the counter at McDonald’s on Crenshaw & Florence.
To cap off the day, LAPD Officers, Andre Dixon and Rebecca Martin, worked double duty behind the counter, playfully serving burgers and soft drinks to the community the LAPD vows to serve and protect. “A stronger community is built when police and the citizens come together. We have to show love to the officers and they have to return that love to community,” said Bailey.
The event was coordinated by LAPD Senior Lead Officer, Gary Verge (from row, middle) and McDonalds Area Supervisor, Lorretta Castro.