StarbucksLeft: Officer Eric Campa and Chief Matt Hamner chat with Lacy Guzman and 2-month-old Gael Guzman

Left: Officer Eric Campa and Chief Matt Hamner chat with Lacy Guzman and 2-month-old Gael Guzman.

Banning Police Department wholeheartedly embraced Starbucks’ Coffee With A Cop, as the caffeine purveyors at the Banning store hosted their first such program last Thursday evening. Patrons were treated to, well, treats and complimentary coffee set up at the back of the Ramsey Street Starbucks, and had welcome opportunity to greet several police officers who were milling around, enthusiastically waiting to hear what visitors to the store had to share.

They had some competition, as the event fell on the same night as the city’s signature Concerts in the Park was starting up simultaneously across town.

“There hasn’t really been a lot of people coming up to talk about concerns. If anything, they’ve been coming up to say thank you. Seriously,” Police Chief Matt Hamner said.

One woman holding a baby, flanked by the baby’s father, joked with Lt. Vincent Avila about how she never imagined “being on this side of the law, and chatted about having turned her life around.

“Please be careful out there,” she begged.

Starbucks store manager Terra Marsh was happy to see several officers come out to support her efforts.

“Starbucks has a whole week coming up in October to honor vets and first responders,” and this event was to help segue into that, according to Marsh.

A Starbucks at the Oak Valley location in Beaumont also had a Coffee With A Cop program that same day, Marsh said.

“The company nationwide has held these events for years. We had it at the last store I worked at, and I just wanted to bring some of those ideas to Banning,” Marsh said.

She hopes to have Coffee With A Cop on a quarterly basis.

Chief Hamner was satisfied with the turnout from his department. “More officers than I requested came,” he said.

There were seven or eight who were in and out at the shop during the initial hour before a couple of officers had to leave to go help patrol the Concerts in the Park.

“What I find is, you have to be approachable and value the public’s opinion” in order for a Police Department to have a positive rapport with its local population, Hamner said. “Sometimes just listening is all it takes.”

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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