The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department attracted much activity to the parking lot of the Calle Real Shopping Center in Goleta during a “coffee with a cop” outreach Saturday morning.
Organized in cooperation with The Coffee Bean &Tea Leaf, the event was attended by several members of both departments and many members of the public who stopped by to pay their respects.
According to sheriff’s Lt. Juan Camarena, the occasion was meant to provide law enforcement personnel and community members an opportunity to enjoy each others’ company and share mutual concerns over a cup of joe.
“It’s a way for us to communicate with the community, a way to kind of build partnerships,” he said.
He also called it an opportunity for the sheriff’s office to learn “things we could do better” and “things that we’re seeing that the community could do better for us.”
The Coffee Bean provided coffee and pastries for the event, and sold coffee bags and tea tins that shared the event’s name, “Heroes at Heart.” General Manager Nicole Hanna told the News-Press that a portion of the money raised from bags and tins purchased will go toward the families of fallen first-responders as well as victims of the past year’s natural disasters.
Those who bought coffee and tea had the option of either taking it home or donating their purchase to local first responder stations.
Coffee Bean barista Riley Francisco co-organized the event, an opportunity she jumped at when Ms. Hanna offered it to her.
Ms. Francisco told the News-Press that the event is a way of giving thanks to first-responders for their service in the recent fires.
“I really wanted to be able to thank our first-responders in a personal way and let them know that the community that they serve loves them and wants to help them too,” she said.
The event also had plenty of activities that parents could enjoy with their children, such as face painting. The Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department respectively parked a BearCat rescue vehicle and fire engine in the parking lot and allowed families to climb aboard.
Perhaps the biggest hit of the event though was Krypto, a 2-year-old black Labrador who serves in the sheriff’s K-9 unit as a jail narcotics dog. Krypto appeared to enjoy being petted by attendees. His handler, Custody Deputy Ian Ur, assured that he did.
“Once you pet him, you become his friend forever,” Mr. Ur said.
While many who said hello to the first-responders were individuals who initially stopped by The Coffee Bean just for their daily dose of caffeine, others knew about the event well ahead of time.
Goleta resident Joylyn Kovacevich, who attended with her parents, husband and children, said the family outing was both meant to show support for the first-responders and show her kids more about their line of work.
“It’s good for the kids to see what the first-responders do and to talk with them, ” she said.