Early morning visitors to the Starbucks at The Parke on Monday got a bonus item with their usual order of coffee: a chat with local police officials.
Residents of Cedar Park and visitors to the Starbucks location were invited to speak with a bevy of local police officers over free snacks and coffee as part of the department's quarterly Coffee With A Cop event.
The list of police officials at the event, which started at 7 a.m. and began to wind down at 9 a.m., included Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix and Sgt. Jessie Campbell, along with Officers Ray Killebrew and Corporal Ricky Pando.
Some of the officials stood nearby a long table, adorned with a blue table cloth baring the event's name, situated in the a corner of the coffeehouse. On top were coffee cups and snacks available for guests to eat while they chatted.
Other officials sat at tables near the coffeehouse windows for long discussions with residents.
"It's a way to connect with the community," said Sgt. Campbell, who said he spoke with around ten residents Monday morning, less than other officers due to his behind the scenes position at the event.
"It presents an opportunity for residents to ask questions," Campbell said.
"With the current climate with the citizens and police departments throughout the country, it's been kind of cloudy. So this is a good way to connect and say 'hey, we are humans, we have families, and we have concerns and want to be transparent'," he said.
"It makes the citizens more comfortable to approach us when they need us," he added.
Outside, customers ordering from the drive-thru were greeted by the jovial and talkative Officer Killebrew, who manned the station along with another officer. Killebrew scanned cards and handed customers their drinks.
"Where's my iced coffee?," he said to the officer behind the counter and Starbucks staff. "I run a tight ship here," he said while laughing with a customer.
Sgt. Campbell, who likes his coffee black and has been working for the Cedar Park Police Department for 25 years, said that, combined, all the officers at the event spoke to upwards of 100 people over the morning.
While the event was slated to end at 9 a.m., officers stayed around talking to customers after that time. Eventually, they coalesced near one side of the counter separating the kitchen from the seating area while they chatted and joked with each other.
The event occurs at multiple coffee shops and locations in Cedar Park over the year about four times a year, if not more.
"I think it's a positive effect because it's us communicating with the public in a positive way and not on a traffic stop or some police call," said Sgt. Campbell.