Our Islands, Our Future

In December, a Coffee with a Cop event was held at the Dairy Road Starbucks. Police officers in green Starbucks aprons surprised customers with free coffee and conversation. “Coffee with a Cop brings officers and the community members they serve together,” said Jun Hattori, Traffic Division officer. “Over coffee we get to discuss issues people may have and we’re able to learn more about each other.”

In 2016, the first Coffee with a Cop Day took place. The Hawthorne Police Department in Hawthorne, California initially launched the idea to seek new ways to interact with their community more successfully. As a result, Coffee with a Cop is currently nationwide.

On Maui, Coffee with a Cop hopes to break down barriers between police officers and citizens by allowing opportunities to ask questions and voice concerns. Taking time to meet at neutral island locations enables candid discussions about current concerns. “In a casual atmosphere, it is easier for people to share what’s on their mind,” said Sean Marzoeki, an upcountry community police officer. “Surprisingly, in a short time, citizens and police officers get to know each other and discover mutual goals for the communities they live in and serve.”

Helping to build trust and foster a sense of community, officers have embraced the event as a way to connect with residents they may never meet otherwise. “We are constantly told stories about positive connections and interactions at Coffee with a Cop events,” said Marzoeki. “It’s great to talk story and be asked questions we can answer. Most people don’t know how to approach an officer. Like today at Starbucks, we just put on the green apron, worked behind the counter, and even got to also talk story with the people in the drive thru.”

The Maui Police Department officers are looking forward to more meetings in the new year. Coffee with a Cop is sure to create a valuable connection in our communities. When officers hear their community’s needs from the people themselves, they’re better able to support them and to see officers as their ally in protecting families and neighbors.

There are a lot of things to talk about over coffee these days. I’m very happy about this effort to show what community policing looks like. Sean Marzoeki, Upcountry Community Police Officer