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Sharpsburg invites residents to ‘Coffee with a Cop’ | TribLIVE.com
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Sharpsburg invites residents to ‘Coffee with a Cop’

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Sharpsburg police Officer Brett Carb sits with resident Joan Bruno, Mayor Matt Rudzki, and resident Joe Bruno at the first “Coffee with a Cop” event in June.

A little caffeine is expected to spark conversation at Sharpsburg’s second “Coffee with a Cop” event.

Hosted on Oct. 3 at Ketchup City Creative, 612 Main St., the nationally-recognized event is an effort by Mayor Matt Rudzki and police Chief Tom Stelitano to engage conversation with officers and get to know them better in a casual atmosphere, the pair said.

“The benefits of community-oriented policing are far-reaching, especially in a tight-knit town like Sharpsburg where most residents have a chance to interact with our officers daily,” Rudzki said. “The department and I felt this was a great opportunity for officers to build good relationships with residents.”

The Hawthorne Police Department in California hosted the first “Coffee with a Cop” event in 2011, and now departments in all 50 states are participating.

From 6 to 7 p.m., residents are invited to sit down with four of the borough’s officers, and conversation is open to whatever they want to discuss. Coffee will be provided by Redhawk Coffee; Brother Tom’s Bakery will supply pastries.

Rudzki initially brought the idea to Sharpsburg because it is a one-on-one, stress-free approach to a better relationship, he said.

“Being in a relaxed environment helps break down barriers between residents and police, who are normally in the station or vehicles with layers of equipment and distractions,” Rudzki said.

Stelitano was immediately on board, he said. For him, the casual atmosphere helps prove he and his officers are human and live just like regular people.

“I want my officers to be approachable,” Stelitano said. “We are people who also have families and lives other than police work.”

Both Rudzki and Stelitano said the turnout in June for their first event was unfortunately very light, and they both hope more residents take the time to come and meet the officers this time.

“My door is always open, and as I patrol, I’m happy to stop and talk with anybody on the street,” Stelitano said.

Nanci Goldberg, owner of the creative space Ketchup City, welcomes events such as this.

“It’s an opportunity to participate in a community event, and that’s been our goal from the start,” Goldberg said. “Ketchup City is a warm, open and welcoming space.”

Christine Manganas is a freelance writer.

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