Friday, April 11, 2014 | 2 a.m.
It’s 8 a.m. Tuesday, and Einstein Bros. Bagels is swarming with cops.
A baker’s dozen officers from assorted Metro Police sections take their positions at the tables and front door. Wearing either beige or green uniforms, they leave their guns holstered and radios muted. They’re not here to make arrests but to meet community members over bagels and free coffee donated by the host business.
A sign outside welcomes patrons to “Coffee With a Cop.”
“Good morning, how are you?” A woman representing Metro’s Enterprise Area Command says to an arriving patron.
“Somebody said free coffee, so here I am,” the man responds.
The man is led inside, where officers armed with steaming cups of joe chat with residents. At one table, a man complains about speeding in his neighborhood — “Speed kills. We all know it,” he says.
At another table, an officer explains credit- and debit-card fraud.
The officer at the door welcomes patrons with a giant grin and a good morning. She persuades them to spend five minutes with the officer, or two minutes, just talk about the weather, just say hello, and here’s your free coffee.
The officers hope to meet a cross-section of the community they don’t come into contact with every day and show them officers aren’t just a badge and gun there for people’s worst moments.
Most of the bagel shop customers are confused about the police presence, but they agree to at least say hello. Others can’t even be drawn to the men in uniform by the prospect of free coffee.
“No thanks. I’ll pay for mine,” one man says.
By 9 a.m., the room is filled with chatter. The patrons talk until their cups are drained or their bagels are ready. Sometimes they chat about police work, but mostly it’s about hometowns or weather.
It doesn’t matter to the officers. They nod and smile, happy to be here meeting the community, guns holstered and coffee cups loaded.