Tiffany Trombley of the Kirkland Police Department, left, and Jamel Warren of the U.S. Marshals Service, pose for a photo during the coffee event. Ashley Hiruko/staff photo

Tiffany Trombley of the Kirkland Police Department, left, and Jamel Warren of the U.S. Marshals Service, pose for a photo during the coffee event. Ashley Hiruko/staff photo

Getting to know cops over coffee in Kirkland

Large crowd of varied law enforcement, patrons bond over java at Juanita Starbucks.

The parking along Northeast 119th Way was littered with police vehicles on Jan. 31.

So many vehicles that it caused a couple strolling near the Juanita Starbucks to question out loud “cops and coffee?”

The coffee shop was packed full of law enforcement officers from Washington State Patrol, the U.S. Marshals Service of Washington, the Federal Air Marshal Service and of course, the Kirkland Police Department (KPD), for the latest Coffee With a Cop event.

An incident last year involving Kirkland police and the Totem Lake Menchie’s is part of the reason why Jamel Warren, organizer and official with the U.S. Marshals Service, chose the location.

He described the November controversy simply: “There was an African American gentleman doing a supervised visitation who was asked to leave by law enforcement.”

This instance led to negative media headlines, he continued.

A Gallup analysis tracking the public’s confidence in police showed that while the percent of Republicans’ confidence in law enforcement had risen during the 2015-17 period, confidence numbers dropped with Democrats by eight percent when compared to the 2012-14 numbers.

Another reason for holding the event, Warren said, was “to clear the air and answer questions — to let people know we’re human and we can move forward from this.”

The Kirkland gathering is one of many Coffee With a Cop events to take place in the country. Backed by a national nonprofit of the same name, the gatherings give citizens and authorities a safe-and-equal space to come together and bond over a cup of Joe.

The events are held in a non-structured, distraction-free way (responders turn off their radios). The success of the gatherings comes from the way “it opens the door for interactions outside of the crisis situations that typically bring law enforcement officers and community members together,” the nonprofit’s website states.

There are always those who come armed with questions for officers during these events. Some ask basic questions about what each branch of law enforcement does. Others approach authorities with questions on what it takes to become an officer or how to make their communities safer. And others, still, spend the time between their coffee orders making small talk with those who protect and serve.

Sometimes the officers run into people they’ve met while on duty. A patron during a Snoqualmie coffee event recognized public information officer Rick Johnson with the Washington State Patrol from a traffic stop. He hasn’t written a ticket for a couple of years.

An email sent out to surrounding agencies made the call for varied law enforcement representatives, Warren said. Like the case was last week, sometimes a large group shows up.

“And sometimes, you have trooper Johnson and me serving coffee out the window of a Federal Way drive-thru,” Warren said.

Johnson and Warren admit: Yes, they were handing out the beverages. No, they were not allowed to craft the drinks. But why would authorities so willingly agree to strap on a green apron in a public setting?

“I don’t want people to be afraid when they call us,” Warren said. “Whether citizen of the U.S. or not, we’re here to help you.”

To the dismay of jokers making the all-too-common cops quip — the room did not reek of bacon that day. Instead it smelled of community camaraderie.

Oh, but they did serve donuts.

To attend a Coffee With a Cop event visit:

More in Life

High School Nation makes a stop in Kirkland

High School Nation treated Juanita students to a two-hour music festival Sept. 13.

Jolene Messmer, a loan consultant at Caliber Home Loans, walks the runway at the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce’s sustainable fashion show on Sept. 12. Madison Miller/staff photo
Kirkland chamber host fashion show fundraiser

Kirkland Chamber of Commerce celebrates Sustainable September with fashion show.

File photo
                                Eastside Welcoming Week will be hosting over 30 events to support diverse communities and build relationships among neighbors from Sept. 13 -22.
Eastside cities join together to celebrate Welcoming Week

Eastside Welcoming Week to take place Sept. 13-22.

Community block party Crossing Kirkland returns Sept. 7

This is the third year the event has taken place in the city.

Charity swim event hits Kirkland this weekend

The Park to Park Open Swim benefits Seattle Children’s Hospital.

KPC announces 2019-20 season

KPC to welcome Jake Shimabukuro, Booker T. Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Los Lobos this season.

Kirkland parks department expands its reach with scholarship program

The decision to expand the program was made in an effort to provide more opportunities for residents.

Kirkland City Hall. Reporter file photo
Kirkland residents encouraged to suggest improvement projects

Each year, there is a total of $350,000 available for projects citywide that are less than $50,000.

A night out with Kirkland cops

The Kirkland Police Department hosts annual National Night Out.

LWSD is looking for mentors

Three mentoring opportunities available to correspond with mentor interests and availability.

Applying mindfulness into your daily life

Being mindful is the act of staying present, being aware of your surroundings and noticing new things without judgment.

National Night Out set for Aug. 6

The annual event will be at the Kirkland Justice Center.