MANCHESTER - At Mrs. Murphy's Donuts, the inviting smell of hot coffee and fresh donuts wafted through the air and light chatter speckled with laughter kept any silence at bay. The usual crowd was filled in with new faces and members of The Manchester Police Department.

As a part of the Coffee with a Cop program, community members were able to meet with police officers to ask questions and discuss community issues.

Police Chief Mike Hall said this program started in California, as a way to allow the community access to police officers hear what is important to the people they serve. "It was really helpful to the agencies [that started the organization]," he said. "We've brought on new people, maybe not familiar.

Members of the Manchester Police Department (Cpl. James Blanchard and Patrolman Jason thomas shown here) met and chatted with customers at Mrs.
Members of the Manchester Police Department (Cpl. James Blanchard and Patrolman Jason thomas shown here) met and chatted with customers at Mrs. Murphy's donuts last week for an informal discussion session. (Mike Bober Photo)
They can meet with people in the community and hear their concerns first hand."

Started in 2012 by Sargent Chis Cognac with the Hawthorne California Police Department, this program went national later the same year. According to their website, the Hawthorne Police Department received a federal grant to provide training and technical assistance to departments across the country looking to hold their own events.

Among the clink of spoons stirring sugar into coffee, community members spoke with the officers and each other. One woman stopped in briefly to thank the police for all the work they do on the community.

Others asked questions about parking and how to better control teh traffic on Thursday afternoons during th Farmer's Market. And some just wanted to chat with each other, while enjoying some coffee and the company of the officers. The attendants took particular glee when they found out Officer Jamie Blanchard did not drink coffee.

"That's the whole reason we're here," one woman said laughing. "You have to drink coffee with us!" Blanchard said the conversation was pretty casual, mostly focusing on parking issues and drivers education requirements.

"There's not really any issue jumping out right now," he said. "This is the first one of these [meetings], we're going to have them once a month at different locations [and maybe] different times."

Turnout wasn't huge for the first event, but there was a steady stream of questions for the officers. Officer Chris Mason said hee hopes now word of mouth can help publicize the event.

"People can tell their friends, this is what happened. . . it sends a positive message," he said.