Just under a dozen parents enjoyed coffee and chocolate chip cookies Wednesday morning at Havana Savannah, a coffee shop in Valencia, where the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station held a Coffee with a Cop event.
Deputies and other members of the Sheriff’s Department answered questions from local parents concerned about interactions between their kids and sheriff’s deputies.
“We want them working with you, not against you,” Kara Reichow, a mom to a senior at Saugus High, told deputies. “We don’t want them afraid of you.”
Clyde Baxter suggested that the department use its social media to tell deputies’ stories.
“You guys do just as many things as we are, you’re human just like us,” he said. “You’re actually probably superhuman because you chose to do what you’re doing, but that story isn’t coming across in the social media.”
Parents advised the department to turn toward education programs to prepare youth for the possibility of being pulled over by a deputy.
Deputy Karina Cervantes said the main takeaway for a traffic stop is to not reach for things.
Sgt. Scott Shoemaker, responding to a parent’s question, said a teenager should feel comfortable communicating any anxieties or disorders they have to a deputy during a traffic stop.
Parent Czarina Louie asked deputies how she can help to change her child’s perception of law enforcement, so that they feel comfortable approaching a deputy.
Deputy Cervantes requested parents instill in their kids that they should feel comfortable looking to deputies for safety in the same way as firefighters, nurses and doctors.
“Every time that I get in my car or I drive (through) the community, I always hear there’s a parent and there’s like a little 5-year-old: ‘Look at the cops, they’re here and they’re going to take you,’” she said highlighting how parents often negatively influence their children’s perception of law enforcement.
“It’s all about communication,” Cervantes said.
SCV station Capt. Justin Diez also participated in the conversation. He said station deputies haven’t had interactions at community events for at least 15 months because of the pandemic.
“This is a great chance just to partner with the community and not only hear their thoughts and concerns, but also for the community to see the deputies in a non-enforcement light and see the human side of deputy sheriffs,” said Diez, noting the first Coffee with a Cop was held at a local church last month.
Diez said the public can expect more Coffee with a Cop events.
“We’ll do this once a month and hopefully we get more and more turnout and we’ll do it in different spots,” he said.