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Community Shares Coffee, Concerns With Cops
Escalon Police Department personnel including Chief Mike Borges, at left, and Officer Carl Poortinga, standing at right, were among those that met the community in Thursdays Coffee with a Cop staged at the local Starbucks. Marg Jackson/The Times

The brainchild of Officer Carl Poortinga, the latest ‘Coffee with a Cop’ gathering at the Starbucks in Escalon was the largest yet. And now, they hope to expand it to perhaps have an evening session and possibly add a gaming day at the newly opened Escalon Youth Center.

Hosted on roughly a quarterly basis, the informal meetings are designed as a way for residents to meet the police officers in the city, share a cup of coffee and discuss concerns or offer suggestions.

Police Chief Mike Borges said the coffee breaks have gone over well and the department and public alike are benefiting.

“Starbucks jumped on board quickly,” added Borges of having a central location to stage the event. “We did one on a Saturday one time, now we are looking at maybe doing it some evening. I also have some younger officers that maybe will do a ‘gaming with a cop’ at the youth center; that will be a great way for my officers to interact with kids.”

Borges said that, in Escalon, the police are generally well-respected and don’t have to host the coffee sessions to improve their public image but, rather, want to stay in touch with residents.

“It’s an icebreaker,” he said. “Especially for those that don’t normally feel comfortable with the police.”

At the Thursday, Sept. 8 gathering, Borges said a local woman brought her three young sons in to meet the officers.

“She wanted that interaction in a positive way for them,” said the chief. “Plus we have had some interesting conversations with people just passing through.”

The department continues to be proactive, the chief added, and is seeing its new volunteer program thrive.

“We just had someone make a $50 donation to that program,” he said. “It was someone who travels a lot, he put in for vacation checks by the volunteers, he was back in town and came in to say ‘thank you’ and then gave us the donation.”

Department officials remind residents that the vacation checks are just one of many tasks the volunteers can handle. For those that want to have their home checked regularly when they are out of town for an extended period, contact the police department at 691-7301 to get information about the service.

Chief Borges, Officer Poortinga and Sgt. Milt Medeiros were all on hand for Thursday’s coffee club session, which lasted about 90 minutes and featured a steady stream of residents coming in to sip and chat.