On the last Friday of each month, the Eaton Rapids Police Department reaches out to the community through its Coffee with a Cop program.
Starting at 8 a.m., anyone who needs or wants to talk to Police Chief Paul Malewski can go to Evelyn Bay Coffee Company, 203 S. Main St., and have their questions and concerns answered. It is a way for the ERPD to reach out to its community in a non-threatening, informal atmosphere, explained Malewski. If the chief is not available, another police officer will be there to tend to residents’ needs.
The Coffee with a Cop program is in its third year, and Malewski said it normally deals with quality of life issues like the amount of trash a resident’s neighbor has piling up in their back yard or public safety issues such as protecting against local crime and making sure residents stay safe.
“If we don’t provide this to the community we are doing them a disservice,” said Malewski, who has worked with the Eaton Rapids Police Department throughout his law enforcement career. After attending Lansing Community College to study criminal justice and graduating from the Wayne County Sheriffs Training Academy in 1981, Malewski was hired just after graduation as a patrolman. The ERPD was established in December 1981 and Malewski was one of the first patrolmen hired.
Now in its 27th year, the police department continues to reach out to the community in various ways through programs such as Coffee with a Cop.
Malewski said that it is difficult to estimate turnout of residents for the discussion forum. Since there is no official sign-up for the event, it is hard to determine who has gone specifically to talk with the chief and who jumps in because they think of something to add, but was just there to grab a cup of coffee.
“We put an advertisement up in our shop,” said Evelyn Bay employee Kirsten Johnson. While she has not worked at Evelyn Bay very long, or during the time slot allotted for Coffee with a Cop, she explained that the coffee shop is a popular place for residents to come. “They come after city council meetings and other meetings,” she said. “Political people come here.” Evelyn Bay is a center where the residents of Eaton Rapids can gather, enjoy a cup of coffee, and make a difference in their community through programs like Coffee with a Cop.