Merrimack police and locals share Coffee with a Cop event
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and a bounty of warm greetings from more than a dozen of Merrimack’s police officers welcomed visitors who attended a May 5 meeting called Coffee with a Cop. The program, part of a national initiative, was held at Hot Rize Cafe, 634 Daniel Webster Highway.
Coffee with a Cop, presents an opportunity for police to hear from the community in a casual atmosphere with no agenda. The concept, according to online information at coffeewithacop.com, now is shared in more than 175 cities in 36 states. Organizers note the program has generated partnership building and trust between residents and officers.
Merrimack neighbors attending the event arrived with a wealth of comments, questions and concerns, all shared over a cup of coffee. A large, wooden table enabled more than a dozen participants to sit alongside each other and enjoy the occasion. Elsewhere, coffee lovers including Merrimack’s April and Ian Taylor, stood near a counter laden with breakfast treats, croissants, bagels and other edibles that go well with some hot java.
Merrimack’s Police Chief Mark Doyle shared some time with several residents. He said the day brought a substantial turnout and offered a pleasant way of connecting with residents.
“We’re having a lot of good conversation,” Doyle said. “It’s a great way to interact with those in the community and it’s nonagenda driven. People can talk about anything they would like to discuss.”
The table occupied by Chief Doyle also seated Capt. Michael Dudash, Lt. Denise Roy and Lt. Paul Trepaney. Nearby, Officer Rob Kelleher, Officer Michael Murray, Lt. Matthew Tarleton and others chatted with visitors.
Alongside the seated officers, a number of residents said they felt they had the officers’ full attention. It was a face-to-face, low-key, casual get-together that opened channels for conversations covering a wide range of topics.
Among the residents at the table were locals Evelyn Barrett, Grace Beaulieu, Gary Gahan, Diane Faust, Michelle Landry and Laura Ellsworth.
Barrett asked about traffic control for an impending event. Beaulieu wanted to hear more about the house checks police will make upon request when a family is out of town.
Diane Faust said she was curious about the routing of calls to 911. She said she found the chance to sit down with some coffee and conversation brought her a better familiarity with her local officers.
“It’s nice to put faces to the names,” Faust said. “The police help you on many levels, not just in an emergency. For instance, they offered to help my son in his Eagle scout project. He is putting up a veterans’ memorial at Veterans Park. It will list the residents of Merrimack that served in World War II.”
Michelle Landry, an accomplished artist whose paintings are admired for their focus on nature, said she had no complaints, no concerns, no issues to bring to the table. She wanted to tell the officers she appreciates them.
“I wanted to come and show my appreciation for such a wonderful police department,” Landry said. “I appreciate all they offer the community and the citizens. Not every town has such an involved police department.”
She too cited the home checks and added some thanks for other innovations including the drug box located in the lobby of the police department, 31 Baboosic Lake Road. The box is a 24-hour depository for outdated prescriptions, pet ointments, pills, medicinal creams and street drugs that might otherwise be discarded.
“The police are present at every community event,” Landry added. “They’re not just working it, they’re participating.”
Lt. Paul Trepaney filled a cup for incoming visitors Pat Miller, a resident of Merrimack since 1984, and Bob Smith, who is running for the U.S. Senate. Smith served there from 1990 to 2003 and, earlier, in the U.S. Congress. Smith’s campaign trail led him to Hot Rize, where he lingered among friends before heading out to attempt the recapture his Senate seat.
Trepaney said Coffee with a Cop event was enjoyed by all.
“It was a super event,” Trepaney said. “It’s a meet-and-greet between our officers and our neighbors. People can just talk about anything, if they have issues or concerns or suggestions.”
Attractive fliers that publicized the event and were posted around town bore a note from Officer Robert Kelleher, who emphasized: No agenda or speeches, just a chance to ask questions, voice concerns and get to know the officers in your neighborhood.
For more information on the Coffee with a Cop program, call Officer Kelleher at 424-3774, ext. 1853.