La Habra police connect with community over coffee

By Jaimee Lynn Fletcher

The La Habra officers huddled outside the local donut shop, styrofoam coffee cups in hand, ready to mingle.

One couple shared concerns about cars speeding near their home, another resident reminisced about how their neighborhood has changed for the better thanks to police and some people just stopped by to shake hands with the officers who patrol their city.

La Habra Police on Tuesday held its seventh Coffee with a Cop event at La Habra Donuts and Deli in an effort to connect with residents.

Motor Officer Sumner Bohee and his motorcycle was a hit with residents who visited La Habra Donuts and Deli for this month's Coffee with a Cop event. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Motor Officer Sumner Bohee and his motorcycle was a hit with residents who visited La Habra Donuts and Deli for this month’s Coffee with a Cop event. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

“This helps us build relationships with the community and build a better partnership,” said Sgt. Brian Miller. “An event like this makes us more approachable.”

La Habra police in December started hosting the community events after Lt. Mel Ruiz said he saw similar events in other cities.

“I thought it would be a great event for us to host here,” he said. “We have had really great turnouts so far.”

Previous events have been held on weekends, but police opted for a weekday event this time at the request of some residents. Locations change every month to accommodate residents from all areas of the city.

Officers welcome talks on any subject matter from safety questions to quality of life issues to career inquiries.

Residents met with officers and talked about neighborhood concerns at the monthly Coffee with a Cop event. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Residents met with officers and talked about neighborhood concerns at the monthly Coffee with a Cop event. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Nothing is off the table, Miller said.

“They can talk about anything they want and we try to guide them to get some answers,” he said.

Bea Gonzalez and her husband, Jim, who have lived in La Habra for 45 years, stopped by to meet officers and share concerns about traffic flow through their neighborhood.

Gonzalez said she was appreciative that the officers listened to her concerns.

“This is such a friendly place to meet,” she said. “They don’t say ‘we’re not here to talk about that.’ I think this is just wonderful.”

Families dined on donuts at the monthly Coffee with a Cop event. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Families dined on donuts at the monthly Coffee with a Cop event. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Rosa Sotelo brought her 6-year-old granddaughter Nevaeh Zuniga because she said she wanted her to meet the police officers who keep their city safe.

“When I heard about this, I said ‘We have to go,’” Sotelo said. “I love that the police department does this. This is just so beautiful.”

Naveah Zuniga, 6, reads a book to Sgt. Brian Miller. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Naveah Zuniga, 6, reads a book to Sgt. Brian Miller. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

La Habra Police host monthly Coffee with a Cop events to connect with the community. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

La Habra Police host monthly Coffee with a Cop events to connect with the community. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Lt. Mel Ruiz, second from right, started the Coffee with a Cop events as a community outreach effort. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Lt. Mel Ruiz, second from right, started the Coffee with a Cop events as a community outreach effort. Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.

Photo by Jim Banks/Behind the Badge OC.