Wilton police officers join citizens for coffee

Lots of folks turned out for Coffee with a Cop at Dunkin’ Donuts in Wilton Friday, which happened to be National Donut Day.
Some attended the relationship-building event to thank Wilton officers for their service, while others went to learn a thing or two about policing.

Many, however, were there simply to talk — to have conversations with their blue-clad protectors, who work around the clock to keep them safe from harm and injustice.

“I talked to a bunch of cops,” said Hunter Stanfield. “Sean’s been on the force for 17 years. I just met Tom; he’s been on the force for 16 years.”

“I don’t think anyone expected it to be National Donut Day in combination with this, but it worked out,” Stanfield said.

Steve Reedy heard about the event and brought the people from his weekly Friday meetup.

“My men’s social group meets usually at another restaurant in Wilton every Friday morning, and so we decided to bring our group down here to engage with the police,” Reedy said.

“It’s great,” Reedy said. “I’m just enjoying connecting with all the officers that we would normally only get a chance to connect with under different circumstances, so it’s nice to be in a social setting to talk about the issues in the community, and just to get to know each other better.”

Reedy’s wife Adrienne got to ask some questions about racial profiling she’d been wanting to ask.

“The response was great,” she said. “He said, ‘You know, we have the record to prove that we make stops based on violations or based on if there’s a problem with the car, so I thought that was interesting.”

Some, like Catherine Samose, learned something new.

“He said you wouldn’t believe how many women leave their cars unlocked with the key in the ignition and the purse on the front seat,” Samose said.

“I always lock the car,” Samose continued. “I would sometimes leave my purse in there, but I would cover it up, and I was talking to one cop and he said, ‘Forget about it. They break the window; they go there and they look underneath everything for the money, so that’s interesting, I think.”

Susan Bell said she was there primarily to thank Wilton police officers for doing what they do. “That’s really why I came,” Bell said.

She also said it was a good way to meet some of the members of the force that she doesn’t typically run into.

“A lot of the police officers that I’ve seen here today I’ve never met before, I’ve never seen before. Many of them are behind the scenes; they’re on night shifts at times when I wouldn’t be able to meet them,” Bell said.

Wilton Second Selectman Michael Kaelin was at Coffee with a Cop as well. He said the event was “terrific.”

“If you just look around, it’s everyone from the patrolmen to the chief. There’s sergeants here; there’s lieutenants here — it’s a whole cross-section of the police department,” Kaelin said.

Lt. Rob Cipolla, who organized the event, was more than happy with its outcome.

“There’s been a few people that have a speeding complaint, or something that needs to be addressed, but a lot of it is casual conversation about families, about sports teams, and that’s really the crux of this kind of event.

“It’s to have those informal conversations beyond ‘license, registration, insurance,’ so that they can see us in a different light; our officers get to interact with the community members in a different light, and we build those trusts and those relationships that help us do our job more effectively, and provide a better service to those in our community,” Cipolla said.

Those relationships, Cipolla explained, are integral to good policing.

“As police officers, we can’t do our job effectively without the community’s involvement. We’re not psychics; we don’t know what the problems are unless the community comes and tells us what the problems are, and solving crimes — we need the community’s help to solve the crimes,” Cipolla said.

Beyond that, Cipolla said forging relationships with the people they protect and serve is something all police officers should do.

“We’re in the service industry,” he said. “Part of that service is sitting down and having conversations with our residents and building those relationships.”

Asked if there will be additional events like Coffee with a Cop in the future, Cipolla said he’s confident there will be.

“This is the first time we’ve done this event, and I would say it’s been pretty successful. I don’t know how often we would plan on doing it, but we would plan on doing another one I’m sure, based on the feedback we’re getting. We’ll explore other locations within the town of Wilton that would be gracious enough to have us put on an event at their location,” Cipolla said.

“Dunkin’ Donuts has been very gracious in having us here. I can’t say enough about them extending and opening up their business to us. It’s been a great success,” Cipolla said.