Police meet with Lehighton residents over coffee
Trooper Anthony Petroski enjoys coffee with (from left) Jeff Miller, Bob Focht, Donald “Hank” Williams, Dennis Blocker, Billy Horn, and Doug Focht. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Every Thursday, a group of seniors gathers for coffee at the Lehighton McDonald’s.
This week, the “table of knowledge,” as they call themselves, had a special guest — state and local police.
The officers came for “coffee with a cop,” an outreach program which has been successful all over the country. Restaurants like McDonald’s provide the coffee, and the guests have a chance to talk about the issues in their neighborhood with police.
“Coffee with a cop is a national program aimed to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community. It allows community members to have a nice safe setting to interact with us,” said Trooper Anthony Petroski, Community Services Officer for state police Troop N.
Petroski and Trooper David Peters, as well as Lehighton Patrolman Michael Svetik talked to the “table of knowledge” and other McDonald’s guests about what was on their mind. Petroski said sometimes people have questions, but they don’t want to call 911 or visit the police station to ask them.
“If they have questions, this is a great opportunity. Or, just meet your local police officers, meet your local state troopers, ask questions, hang out and drink some coffee,” he said.
The attendees were prepared with questions as well as praise for the officers. Doug Focht asked a question which had stumped the “table of knowledge,”
“He asked what we all wanted to know,” his wife, Margaret Focht, said.
“If you can make a right on red before the green arrow comes up. As long as it’s not posted, you can do that,” Susie Horn, said.
Fran Haas, who has worked as a crossing guard in Lehighton for 55 years, asked Svetik what can be done to show down drivers who speed when students are going to and from school.
Others just wanted to say thank you to the officers for the job they do protecting the public each day. Virginia Crowther gets coffee at the Lehighton McDonald’s every day. She was happy to thank the police.
“It’s a very hard job. I told him, I really appreciate you doing your job the way you do, because they get a raw deal sometimes,” she said.
Jane Arnold, Lehighton McDonald’s store manager, said she enjoys hosting the officers because they’re ordinary people too.
“They get to mingle with us, we get to mingle with them.”
Svetik also welcomed the opportunity to connect with residents with a conversation. He said people usually aren’t too happy to see a police officer in their rear view mirror. But they are people too, doing a job and enforcing the law. “We’re human beings when we take the uniform off, just like anybody else,” he said.