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Forest Grove Coffee With a Cop sparks friendly chat and puts wanna-be police officer in the drivers' seat

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: EMILY GOODYKOONTZ - Mayson Dambach, 6, asks Forest Grove Police officer Austin Adams about all the tools and weapons he carries while his mother, Valerie, looks on.Six-year-old Mayson Dambach wants to save the world.

According to Mayson's plan, he'll do this by becoming a policeman or fireman.

That's why he and his mom, Valerie, showed up Wednesday morning, July 5, at Maggie's Buns coffee shop in Forest Grove, where Forest Grove Police officers had gathered for their quarterly Coffee With a Cop (CWAC) event to meet and greet the people they serve.

Sporting his black hat with "Police" written in bold letters, Mayson got to talk to his heroes.

Outside the colorful coffee shop on 21st Avenue, the men and women in blue milled about, smiling, telling stories and holding cups of steaming, fresh coffee. At least seven officers were present — some coming and going during the event— including Chief Janie Schutz. "Police are out there putting their lives on the line every day. I try to support them whenever I can," said Bill Knapp, a retired Forest Grove resident who's lived in the area for nearly 60 years.

Knapp attends the events simply to show his support for the officers. He thinks positive public visibility is an important remedy for the recent outpouring of negative sentiment in the country regarding police.

"Anytime we get the opportunity to meet people and chat with them in a non-confrontational environment, that's a good thing," said Captain Kevin Ellingsburg.

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: EMILY GOODYKOONTZ - Police Chief Janie Schutz talks with real estate agents outside Maggies Buns at the Coffee With a Cop event on Wednesday, July 5. Though CWAC attendees often ask the police questions on topics ranging from crosswalk law to noise ordinances to homeless people and more, this time everyone focused on friendly chit-chat, storytelling and human connections.

The chance to meet people on a positive level doesn't occur often enough when on the job and responding to calls, Ellingsburg said.

"I believe building community relationships will really make a difference in changing what's happening across the country," said Schutz.

Wanting her officers to be seen as regular people with families in the community, Schutz started the Coffee With a Cop events shortly after coming to Forest Grove five years ago.

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: EMILY GOODYKOONTZ - Much to his delight, 6-year-old Mayson Dambach takes a turn in the drivers seat of Officer Austin Adams's car, turning the lights and siren on and off. At the end of the event, Officer Austin Adams led Mayson to the driveway next to the coffee shop where his police cruiser was parked. Mayson grinned uncontrollably as he sat in the drivers seat, turning the lights on and off.

"It's a beautiful day. Can't ask for more," said Schutz.

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