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Tag Archives: Coffee and Conversation with a Cop

Last Cup Till Fall

I forgot to write about Coffee with a Cop!  I’ve written about the program before. It takes place on the first Saturday of the month.  A police officer or officers who are on duty but not busy meet with any interested community members. We have coffee and treats, and we talk.  The meetings take place at various locations, such as churches or the library.  On Saturday, June 6, we met at Trinity Lutheran Church, 443 Henry St., Herkimer, with Officer Tiffany Hill and Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory.

The idea of the meetings is to foster a better relationship between the police and the community. Discussions often cover a variety of topics.  Officer Hill talked about Community Policing, getting to know the people she protects.  Recently she had attended a parade and danced with kids in Meyers Park.  She was at a local school one lunch time and ended up signing autographs (nobody at the meeting was bold enough to ask for one).

She also told us about a foot pursuit where she ran across State Street and caught the guy.  Apparently somebody had leaned out of their apartment window to record it and posted the video on YouTube.  Some of those present had seen it. Oh, I missed a bet.  I should have found it and posted a link.  It was an exciting story.

“My job is so boring,” I grumbled.  Please note:  I don’t really mind; I can live with a little boredom.

We talked a bit about Main Street’s bad reputation, which I feel is not entirely deserved.  As with many such things, there is some truth and some exaggeration involved.  I said I would stubbornly continue to walk and run on Main Street when I felt like it.  Nobody seemed to think this was a bad idea.

I love my adopted hometown of Herkimer, but I know there is room for improvement. I like to think that Coffee with a Cop is a step in the right direction.  The program is taking a break for the summer but will restart in the fall.  I’ll be watching for fliers and scanning the newspapers to see when and where, as I hope others will be, too.




Me and the Police

I saw on Facebook (an unending source of information) that Thank the Police Blue Ribbon Day happens from 9:01 p.m. Sept. 29 to 8:59 p.m. Sept. 30.  What better time, I thought, to make my post about Coffee and Conversation with a Cop (also known as Cup with a Cop).  I attended the latest session of the program last Saturday, Sept. 26, and enjoyed it very much.

The program runs the last Saturday of the month from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Herkimer.  One or two police officers attend (as allowed by their duties).  Anybody in the community is welcome to come and chat.  I’ve asked questions about police procedure for that novel I keep trying to write.  We talk about the state of crime in the area, local police work, and many other related topics.

I confess that when I attend these sessions I am torn between an uplifting feeling of civic virtue and a sheepish acknowledgement that I am also looking forward to the refreshments.  Then again, as a community theatre colleague once observed as we contemplated with satisfaction a large crowd for dessert theatre, “If you feed them, they will come.”

While I enjoyed several cookies, I also contributed to a lively and wide-ranging discussion.  What I really liked about it was that people’s attitudes were geared to, “What can we do to make things better?”  The underlying thought seemed to be that we actually can make it better.  I found that refreshing and encouraging.

Sometimes at these sessions, when we get to talking about the state of the world, we fall into a bit of,  “Look at THOSE people!  They don’t show any respect!”  From there, it is a short step to, “It wasn’t like that when WE were young!”  Yes, I have done it myself, but I question the validity of the assertion.  One time an older guy (older than me at any rate) was bemoaning the younger generation, and I said to him, “You realize your grandfather said the same thing about you.”  Of course I was just guessing, but I bet I guessed right.

Officer Crippen, our cop for the day, did talk about respect, but he talked a lot about how much better things go when he shows respect to others.  Obviously, sometimes you have to tackle the bad guy, but often when you come into a situation, what first meets the eye does not tell the whole story.  He finds if he can ask, “What’s going on here?” and get an answer, he often gets a better result.  He said when possible, he prefers verbal de-escalation.

Another topic that came up was the ever-increasing problem of heroin addiction.  We talked about societal and economic factors in the situation, as well as the more sophisticated techniques of the drug dealers and the police department’s troubles in combating them.  Long-range solutions, of course, are not easy to come by, but we discussed those, too.

As usual, the idea of all citizens being the eyes and ears of the police came up.  “If you see something, say something” is the rule the police would like us to follow.  This is not said with a “Squeal on your neighbor” kind of vibe but rather with the intent to help your neighborhood and make our community better.  An example of this was a question I brought up.  It seems a number of people in my neighborhood enjoy the night life, sometimes returning loudly at a late hour.  If I think I hear a fight, the police would rather I call them and be wrong than not call them and be right.  After all, the cops may be able to stop a fight before somebody gets hurt.

I felt it was a really good session and was glad I was able to attend.  Cup with a Cop has been going on for a year now.  One of the last things we talked about was how to expand the program, bring more people into the discussion, and let it spread to other communities.  One possibility is to ask other churches to host sessions. Another suggestion was to hold a Conversation at the library.

“Yes, the library,” I said.  “Then afterwards, people can stay and listen to Guitar Group!  I love that Guitar Group.”  It would make a wonderful blog post.


Scattered but Sick Saturday

Sorry, kids, but I feel like crap.  I’m going to give you a brief overview of my day, whine about my ills, and hit Publish.  That was your warning.  If you don’t want to listen to me whine, STOP READING NOW!!  SAVE YOURSELF!   (That last said in a sweeping dramatic tone with gesture, like the character in the disaster movie who sacrifices herself for others.) (I’m either taking myself pretty seriously here or else I’m being silly. You decide.)

I started this morning with Coffee and Conversation with a Cop at the First Baptist Church in Herkimer, NY.  This worthwhile community endeavor has been going on for a whole year now, and I support it wholeheartedly.  I intend to write a longer blog post about it. I had intended to do so today, but, well, shit happens.

Having eaten sweet yummy stuff at the church but not had breakfast, I was feeling a little upset of stomach.  I went home and had eggs,  thinking protein would counteract the sugar.  I guess it helped marginally.

I left the house shortly before noon, headed for Ilion Little Theatre (ILT).  I understood  that people would be working on the set for Lunch Hour starting at noon.  Lunch Hour, I believe I mentioned, is the first official offering of the ILT 2015-16 season.  I am stage manager.  Rehearsals have started and are going very well.  I chatted with the director about how well things are going, gave my opinion about a couple of set pieces under consideration, and other than that was not a whole lot of help.

That was when I started to feel like crap.  The lightheadedness that has plagued me lately came back.  I couldn’t handle it.  I went home.  After visiting with Steven when he came home for lunch (poor soul has to work most Saturdays), I took a nap.

And some more stupid stuff happened after I awoke, but never mind that now.  I am slowly becoming more open about admitting that I suffer from depression.  On the one hand, I think it is a good idea to become more open about these things, take away the stigma of mental illness, and encourage each other to seek help.  On the other hand, sometimes it feels like I am whining, asking for sympathy that I don’t necessarily deserve (although who can say what one truly deserves?  I’m asking seriously: who makes these rules? I’d like a word with them), or possibly seeking excuses to get less done than I might otherwise.

All that said, my depression has been making itself felt in full force for some time now.  Before I began this post, all I wanted to write was, “I am too depressed to write a post today.”  And look, I’m over 400 words.  I think I shall feel happy about that.  I hope you are all enjoying your Saturday.


I Return to the Cops

For the past few months for one reason or another I have missed Coffee and Conversation with a Cop so I was determined to go last Saturday, May 30.


The program runs from 9 to 11 a.m. on the last Saturday of the month at the First Baptist Church of  Herkimer on the corner of Green and Washington streets in Herkimer, NY.  The aim is to foster a better relationship between citizens and police, thus improving the quality of life in our village.  I am all about improving my beloved Herkimer.  Also, the session is a golden opportunity for me to ask questions about police work relating to the novel I am still trying to write.


Another bonus, for me at least, is the refreshments.  I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and some homemade scones and cookies that were to die for.  I should have asked for the recipes.  But I digress.


Two officers sat at the tables when I arrived shortly after nine.  One was in a lively discussion with several participants, but the other looked free, so I cornered him with my novel inquiries.  Oh well, I guess “cornered” is an exaggeration.  I sat down near him with my coffee and scone, and opened my notebook.


He was gracious and informative.  I took care not to let my novel dominate the conversation but tried to think of questions that would be of interest to others.  Others sitting at our table also had questions.


One question that came up was what to look for if one suspected the neighbors of nefarious activities (nobody actually said “nefarious.”  I just like that word).   Batteries?  Chemicals?  It is not always easy to know if something is suspicious, because things can have multiple explanations.  For example, comings and goings at odd hours may indicate shift work.  A good solution is to get to know your neighbors, which of course is not always easy these days.


This idea of Neighborhood Watches was brought up. The officers emphasized that a Watch was just that.  If we observe something wrong, we should call the police and not try to take action ourselves.


“That’s how you become a headline,” I said.


The officers had brought fliers keeping your home secure.  I especially liked the one titled “Beware of the Bogus Caller,” which featured a cartoon of a man with an evil grin on the front.  The flier had good advice, but I thought it was a funny picture.


I only stayed and chatted for about an hour, because I had many things to do and a headache to contend with (just to throw in a line about my petty personal problems), but I was glad I attended.  I feel it makes me look at my village as a whole and gives me a different perspective from my usual Mohawk Valley adventures.


Just Another Scattered Saturday

I pause in chopping vegetables to make a fast blog post (I just made a typo of calling it a blot post.  As my friend Rachel likes to say, my  Freudian slip is showing).  Mostly this will be a post about things I could write a post about but am not (but may in the future).


This week I ignored my note to myself about not taking three days off running and reaped my just deserts  (as in what I deserve, not strawberry shortcake, worse luck) on Friday.  I ran again this morning (Saturday).  I took mental notes each time and Saturday even ran a course I have not run in over a year.


Later this morning I went to the Baptist Church in Herkimer, NY for Coffee and Conversation with a Cop.  They hold that every month but I have missed the last few months for one reason and another.  I had a nice time and got a few answers that will help with the novel that I WILL finish, though probably not in May as previously advertised.


Leaving the Conversation in progress (they were doing fine without me), I went to the Herkimer County Humane Society Garage Sale.  Fun and productive.  Driving back into Herkimer, I made stops at T&J’s Fruits & Vegetables and Hannaford.


Coming home, I cleaned frantically.  I don’t often do cleaning posts, but one never knows what will come off the pen (and out of the keyboard) of Mohawk Valley Girl.


Now I must go back to chopping vegetables, among other chores.  I hope all readers are having an excellent Saturday.


Scattered Saturday

I rarely post this late in the day on a Saturday, but these things happen. I shall go on to do what I often do on a Saturday. That is, list the activities in which I indulged other than writing a blog post.

This morning I went to Coffee and Conversation with a Cop at the Baptist Church in Herkinmer, NY. I mean to write a blog post about it, but I wanted to do something better than composing at the keyboard and hitting Publish as soon as I complete at least 200 words. I don’t know when I think I’m going to do that, as I am entering that bear of an exciting week in the play I am in, Production Week (it doesn’t have to be capitalized, but I wanted to make it seem important) (which it is, but mostly to the people involved with the play).

Another problem which has been exercising my mind is what to write about for an article for Mohawk Valley Living, the wonderful magazine which has been so gracious as to publish my writing. As I drove the Cop event, I remembered Guitar Group at Basloe Library. I love Guitar Group! I have not gone to listen to them in a long time. That might make a good article. If not, at least I would cheer myself up with some good music and get a blog post out of it.

I gassed up my vehicle after the Conversation (I mention it because I am listing my activities after all). I purchased a Sobe vitamin drink as well, because I had neglected to bring a bottle of water and I was thirsty.

Imagine my chagrin when only one gentleman showed up for Guitar Group. The librarians did not say it had disbanded, but apparently nobody showed up last week either. I purchased five paperbacks at their sale (five for a dollar, can’t beat it), so the stop was not a total loss, but I was quite disappointed.

When I got home I realized I had a dreadful sinus headache. I called my Mom (no, not to tell her I had a headache, although that did come up in a conversation), looked at Facebook, did some puzzles in a puzzle book and waited for Steven to come home for lunch, which he did around 1:30.

After he went back to work I took a nap. I slept for over three hours. What a bum! I feel kind of bad even admitting I did such a thing. I’m sure many people would huff, “I wish I had time to take a nap!” Then again, those people probably don’t have time to read a silly blog either. I think I needed the sleep.

I felt pretty terrific when I got up, which is unusual after a nap. Usually I feel sluggish and groggy until coffee makes it all better. After I was up, drinking some water and thinking about my blog post, I realized I have that vague, sicky headache that means a cold or worse. SAY IT AIN’T SO!! Fight it, Cindy, fight it! I’m drinking an Airmune (that’s the generic of Airborne) and hoping for the best.

I hope I have not rattled on for too long, but I wanted full disclosure. I warn you, this blog might be All Busybody All The Time for the next week (that is the play I am in) (I did mention that I’m in a play, right?). I hope you are all having a lovely weekend.

Another Conversation with a Cop

I think the local cops are cool. I am reminded of this once a month now when I attend Coffee and Conversation with a Cop at the First Baptist Church in Herkimer, NY. I had some good conversation there last Saturday, Sept. 27.

The event runs from 9 to 11 a.m. the last Saturday of the month at the church on the corner of Green and Washington streets. I got there just after nine. Rev. Tenolian Bell, the church’s pastor, greeted me. I got myself a name tag, a cup of coffee and a scone. I sat down and opened my little notebook.

Two officers I had not met before were there. I’ve met different cops each session. They have all been pleasant, friendly and informative. This time I met Officers J. Reska and K.R. Allen. Rev. Bell told us these two had appeared on the original poster advertising the first Coffee and Conversation with a Cop. I thought that was kind of cool.

Traffic was a big topic this time. At one point, a certain right turn only corner came up. Someone wasn’t sure which corner it was. Officer Reska tried to elucidate.

“If I had a piece of paper…”

I immediately pushed my notebook and pen over to him so he could draw a little map of the corner in question. We talked about inconsiderate people not obeying the signs. If the police aren’t right there, the person is probably going to get away with it. Sometimes the police are close by but are en route to a more urgent call.

A call came in during our conversation, and both officers had to leave for a short time. I took the opportunity to ask Rev. Bell about something he had mentioned earlier, that he had been an investigator for a D.A. We talked about his experiences and path to the ministry, which I found very interesting.

When the cops returned, the recent rash of car break-ins came up. Officer Reska said in many cases the car owners had not locked their doors. I always lock my doors, but felt it would sound smug to say so.

We also talked a little about the officers’ backgrounds and experiences, and police work in general. I feel I am getting a real picture of the Herkimer Police Department. I took a flier for next month’s session to hang up at my work. I hope more people start attending Coffee and Conversation with a Cop. I look forward to more conversations myself.

A Run on the South Side

Perhaps Sunday Running Commentary will become a thing for me. I used to be motivated and dedicated and run both weekend days. Lately, not so much. However, I got myself out the door and on the road today so thought I’d write about it.

It was shortly after 6 a.m. when I set out. It was light out and I intended to stick to sidewalks so I did not wear my reflective vest. For another reason, it was at least sixty degrees and possibly still humid, so I did not want the extra layer. For me, 60 degrees is doable, but I prefer 10 or even 20 fewer degrees. But there is no point in repining over what one would like. I set out.

I decided to run in the opposite direction from the one I usually take, which is toward German Street. I went toward State Street, also known as Route 5, meaning to cross to the south side of town. I don’t usually run there, to avoid crossing the busiest street in town, but I like to shake things up occasionally.

As I ran, I reflected that I was going to the south side of Herkimer, “the baddest part of town,” to quote an old song. It isn’t really (don’t hate one me, south side!), but it used to be considered “the other side of the tracks.” I learned at a program at the Herkimer County Historical Society that the south side was where most of the immigrant families settled. These included the children who attended South School, which later became the Tugor School. I believe the school is now senior citizen apartments.

The railroad tracks used to run where State Street is now, so “wrong side of the track” was true. I’ve often thought it doesn’t matter which side of the tracks you live on; if you live close enough to the tracks the trains are going to be too loud. But I don’t really know about these subtle social distinctions. I just wanted to go for a run.

I sprinted across State Street, because I had the green light. I made it with no problem, which I thought was a good thing, because there was a big old pick-up truck stopped for the red light. I don’t want to get a big old pick-up truck mad at me. I continued down Bellinger to the end of the street, which I thought was Marginal Road.

My body had settled into the run by the time I was on the south side. It had not been best pleased with me when we started out. Once again I wondered if I should warm up and stretch out before leaving the house. Only it goes against the grain with me to run in place for a minute when I’m just going to be running down the road soon. It feels like wasted effort, and I have little enough oomph as it is.

As I continued my run I realized I was not on Marginal Road but on Steele Street. There was no sidewalk but also no traffic, so I did not regret the lack of my reflective vest. It was pretty much full daylight by this time anyways, if not bright and sunny. My body stopped complaining. In fact I was much more absorbed in looking at the sights than in noticing how well the run was going. That is my usual trick.

I could see that the south side was no longer the baddest part of town, if it ever was. The proportion of well-kept houses to houses that have seen better days was about what you see anywhere in town. I admired porches, flowers and the usual stuff. It’s kind of nice to look at different houses once in a while.

Steele Street became Protection Avenue with no effort on my part. Then I took a couple of side streets and ran across the K-Mart parking lot. That was where I petted a nice black pug named Miss Daisy. Her person told me Miss Daisy was trying to lose weight too. I wished her an easier time than I am having and ran on. I know, I need to run a little more and eat a lot less.

Another sprint brought me back to my own side of State Street. I ran by Folts Home, noting their pavilion, where I first saw Fritz’ Polka Band (I’m Facebook friends with Fritz now) (I’m something of a name-dropper; you may have noticed). And there was the Baptist Church, host of Coffee and Conversation with a Cop. Next I ran by Municipal Hall, where the Herkimer Police Station is.

In Meyers Park I encountered my friend Nicky and his person. I petted the good dog and exchanged a few remarks with the nice person. On the other side of the park I saw two dogs I know named Chico and Bear, with their person. More pets and greetings. I love to stop running for a few seconds to pet a dog.

I ended up running 38 minutes, longer than my last few runs. It was in fact, more than a 10 percent increase, which is the recommended amount, but I’m sure that is OK. I guess it will have to be, because I did it. My dog Tabby nicely walked my cool-down with me.

I have not been very dedicated with my running lately. I let the hot and humid weather last week discourage me. However, fall approaches and I feel another burst of motivation coming on. Maybe I will be able to lose as much weight as Miss Daisy.

Second Cup with a Cop

I was delighted to attend the second Coffee and Conversation with a Cop at the Baptist Church on Washington Street in Herkimer last Saturday morning (perhaps you read my blog post about the first one). I feel so pleased that this is going to be a monthly event and have great hopes as I do for any project meant to improve my beloved adopted hometown.

The event ran from 9 to 11 a.m. I arrived shortly after nine, signed in and put my name on a name tag. Jamie Lester Bell, the First Lady of the church, remembered me from last time. She was on her way out, having double booked herself, but she took time to greet me. She also asked me to leave information on how to get to my blog. I said I would post a link on the church’s Facebook page (note to self: remember to do that).

No cops were present as I walked in. They were out on a call. Chairs were arranged around two separate tables rather than the U formation they had been in last time. People were sitting around one table having a discussion. I got some coffee and a cookie and chatted with some people I remembered from last time.

When I saw a uniform come in the door I called, “There’s a cop!”

It was Officer Steve Elwood, who I had met at the Herkimer Police Department when I registered for the DARE 5K. He looked at the plate of donuts and said, “Is this a joke?”

I don’t know why it’s such a cliche of cops and donuts. A lot of people like donuts. I look like I eat a few too many myself. But I digress.

Officer Elwood asked me how I did on the run. We chatted a bit about that, then sat down at a table and others joined the conversation. Another officer showed up, whose name I did not get, so we had a cop at each table with two separate conversations going on. The atmosphere was very informal, which I gather is the intention.

My table chatted about all kinds of things. My novel came up, because I had been asking Officer Elwood questions for it the day I registered for the DARE run. I’d better make sure I finish that novel, I’ve mentioned it to so many people.

We asked a lot of questions about police work in general and the situation in Herkimer in particular. I really enjoyed how it felt more like a conversation with regular people than a question and answer session. As we talked about problems in our community it became a more serious discussion about economics and societal ills. We discussed how bringing more businesses in, particularly on Main Street, would help everything.

My big takeaway, both this time and last month, was what we as individuals can do. “If you see something, say something.” For example, there have been burglaries recently where the thieves just took stuff out of a house and drove away with it in broad daylight. Did the neighbors even notice? If so, why didn’t they make a phone call?

I said that it might be a problem on my street, because there are several rental properties. People are often moving in and out. Even as I said it, I realized my solution is actually what I try to do. When I’m out walking my dog, I speak to people. I can’t say I get to know all my neighbors, but I have a better shot at recognizing somebody who doesn’t belong.

Obviously any community needs more than just sitting around talking, drinking coffee and eating donuts (I ate a donut; I don’t think any of the cops did). But I like to think this is a step in the right direction. I hope that some of us try to do something to implement some of the ideas that were expressed. And I hope to see even more people at next month’s Conversation. I plan to be there.