MSP outreach program 'Coffee with a Cop' comes to Baldwin

BALDWIN — On April 29, several Lake County residents dropped by Gramma's Treats in Baldwin, got themselves a cup of joe and had some coffee with a cop.

It was part of the Michigan State Police's Coffee with a Cop initiative, a public outreach program where state troopers can introduce themselves to people in the community they will be overseeing, and give the public a chance to meet the troopers and talk with them in an informal setting. Trooper Dan Thomas of the MSP Hart Station was on hand.

"Quite a few people came in," remarked Thomas. "Not as many as some of the other Coffee with a Cop's I have done, but not bad for a small town on a weekday morning."

Some of the Lake County residents who dropped in had questions, others had suggestions and some just wanted to say hello.

"We had several people come in to discuss scams and frauds; some just wanted to voice some concerns they have to law enforcement but didn't think it was worth calling 911 about it," said Thomas. "Some people just wanted to come in and thank law enforcement."

The Michigan State Police began hosting events like this to help them connect better with the community, and help the community connect better with them. Thomas said in light of the nationwide scandals involving police shootings over the last year, they wanted to ensure law enforcement and the public viewed each other as partners, not enemies.

"People should never be afraid to come to law enforcement when they have a problem," said Thomas. "And you need to know and be a part of the community you're going to be policing."

Gramma's Treats co-owner Kris Trucks said she volunteered her business for the event because her son is a state trooper. She said she liked the idea of the troopers and the public getting some face time with one another.

"It's nice the guys want to be a face in the community," said Trucks. "People often only talk about the bad side of law enforcement, and this lets people see a different side."

Thomas said similar events are planned for the future. There are two coming up in the Newaygo area, and he expects another Coffee with a Cop opportunity to return to Lake County sometime in mid-summer.

"Any time we can get out and address the concerns of the public is great," explained Thomas. "We like giving people the chance to talk about things that maybe they wouldn't get a chance to otherwise."