MIDDLETOWN -- With nationwide concerns over police brutality and unpleasant interactions with officers, the Connecticut State Police think they have a part of the solution to improving relations: coffee with a cop.
“The goal is to break down barriers between troopers and the citizens and motorists they serve in a neutral setting over a cup of coffee,” said Trooper Kelly Grant, a State Police spokesperson. The event was staged at the Middletown rest area, along I-91 northbound, just prior to exit 20, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.
Troopers were in attendance to discuss concerns, answer questions and have general conversation with the public.
“Coffee with a cop brings the troopers patrolling the highways together with the motorists travelling those same highways, since their paths may cross for several reasons--a traffic stop, a car crash, a disabled motor vehicle,” said Grant. “We felt the evening rush hour commute, at a rest area, was a good idea to connect with commuters to talk about issues they feel are important.
AAA’s Emergency Roadside Service team was also on hand to offer free battery and tire pressure inspections as we approach the winter, which Trooper Grant agreed was an important preventative measure.
"We’re also taking this opportunity to remind commuters that winter weather driving is quickly approaching," Grant said.
And, Stew Leonard's was there to provide the coffee and donuts – also for free.
Given the scrutiny that law enforcement is under nationwide, “Troopers understand that as society changes they must continue to change also,” said Grant. “A trooper doesn’t do this job for money or recognition, they do it because they truly like to help others. Almost daily troopers go above and beyond to help someone else.”
Of course, a great deal of good has come from the criticism of cops.
“People stop on the road to say thank you,” noted Grant. “They buy cups of coffee for troopers. A variety of food has been dropped off at the troops across the state. Flowers and cards have been sent. Troopers truly appreciate all the kind gestures directed to them from the residents of Connecticut.”