You are stopped by an Apopka Police Officer…what is the first image in your mind? Flashing lights as you pull off the road? The frantic search for your license, registration and insurance information as they approach?
The Apopka Police Department (APD) filled the Main Street McDonalds Saturday morning with officers, but not for the reason you might think.
The heavy police presence was all for a program called “Coffee with a Cop”. The 90-minute event was well attended, with people of all ages meeting and talking to the officers.
“There are a lot of paradigm shifts going on in law enforcement these days and a lot of animosity between the communities and everything… and I want to make sure we don’t have that in Apopka,” said APD Chief Mike McKinley. “I want to make sure we are intertwined with the residents of Apopka and have a good working relationship with them."
"Coffee with a Cop" provides a unique opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department’s work in Apopka’s neighborhoods. The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies, or emotional situations.
Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building with the community, and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street. "Coffee with a Cop" breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.
McDonald's served as the location for this event – with the idea being either monthly or quarterly meetings being alternated between the Main Street and Rock Springs McDonalds locations. There was no planned agenda or speakers, just an opportunity to connect over a free small hot coffee, which was provided to all attendees.
Bob and Barbara Allegroe, franchise owners of the Main Street McDonalds, have been active community members in Apopka for over 40 years. They view "Coffee with a Cop" as a positive for Apopka and were happy to serve as the first hosts of the event.
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