CARSON CITY — The view of the McDonald’s parking lot Tuesday morning may have appeared intimidating to motorists passing by, with two police cruisers parked in plain sight.
However, the atmosphere inside the restaurant was nothing but friendly and casual as police officers mingled with residents during the first “Coffee With A Cop” gathering.
Carson City Police Chief Bruce Partridge believes that there is a misperception of officers in the city; that people think the mentality of the department is simply to write tickets and arrests individuals.
But Partridge is hoping, as he and Officer Devin Jarvie sipped coffee and shared stories on a variety of topics with residents, that the image of a calculated and unrelatable police department will become a thing of the past.
“We’re not taking any notes, we’re not asking for any IDs and we’re not checking for any warrants,” Partridge said. “This is what we’re about. If citizens have had previous bad experiences, this event can help reinforce that we’ve not only told them that it’s a new game, but they can come and see it in person.”
Partridge said he’s hoping that Tuesday’s event will become a bi-monthly meeting at various locations throughout Carson City.
“What we’ve found is if we have a meet and greet at City Hall, some people become nervous and are afraid to come,” he said. “If you meet on neutral territory, with no real agenda, just to talk, sometimes someone might just want to talk about a ticket they received and get it off of their chest.”
One hour into Tuesday’s two-hour event, Partridge said he hadn’t had anyone address any complaints, although he welcomes them.
“I can’t say we really pulled people in off the street, but we definitely had people here who we haven’t seen before,” he said. “We haven’t had anyone bring up any problems as of yet, but if someone wants to bring a concern, that’s primarily why we’re here.”
Partridge said he is hoping that attendance will grow as word of mouth spreads about meetings in the future.
Jarvie said he had a good time chatting with residents, some whom were not aware that he and Partridge would be in the restaurant Tuesday.
“Things have gone well this morning,” Jarvie said. “Everyone has been pretty talkative, it’s nice meeting with some of the “regulars” who are usually here in the morning.”
Jarvie said his conversations mainly focused around the history of the Carson City area.
“We talked a lot about the history of the law enforcement and ambulance and rescue crew,” he said. “We haven’t had any complaints, which is something we were wondering we would get.”
Mary Louise Helwig, who lives just east of Carson City in Gratiot County, said she enjoyed her time talking with the officers.
“I know these guys, I’ve lived here 87 years and they do a wonderful job,” Helwig said. “We’re kind of disappointed there aren’t more people. But the ones who complain are the ones who aren’t here.”