‘Say hello’ and have coffee with a cop

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Perla Lara

Cerritos College Police Captain Hans Strand speaking with Art major Ernest Sandoval during the Coffee with a Cop meeting on Thursday Nov. 3. Sandoval was seeking advice on what to do about a person possibly stalking him, Strand listen attentively as Sandoval described the different situations that involved a person approaching him in a challenging manner. Photo credit: Perla Lara

Perla Lara

Free coffee and deserts attracted students to room BK 111 on Thursday Nov. 3, once in the room they introduced themselves to police officers who were there as part of the Coffee with a Cop meeting.

The meeting was set to be an informal conversation between the campus police officers and the campus staff and students over pastries and coffee.

Campus Police Captain Hans Strand said, the meeting was so that students “can come up to us and not feel uncomfortable […] we’re here for them to help them out during class sections we’re always available.”

It was a chance for students and faculty to meet and greet Strand, Sargent Angel Castillo, Police Officer David Perez, and Police Officer Jay Barron.

Strand said, “It was very successful we had more attendance this year than last year.”

He attributes the increase in attendance to “emails, the chief had e-mails go out to staff and faculty, so maybe they talked to students.”

Most students grabbed some of the treats, said hello to the officers in the room and left.

Others came with specific questions to ask the officers, or to ask for the officers advise.

Art major Ernest Sandoval saw the signs posted for the meeting and decided to stop by.

He said, “I decided to peek in and see what’s going on, and also get a chance to say thank you to them [the police officers] they do an awesome job.”

Another reason Sandoval stopped by was because he has a situation that he wanted advice on.

“I feel somebody has been stocking me bothering me, at first I thought it was a coincidence but I come out of class and this person is standing there and he was kind of challenging me, I don’t know the man I’m a minister I’m not looking for nothing [like conflict]. I asked [Strand] what to do because it’s been like seven or eight times that he’s done it including yesterday. […] I asked [Strand] what to do and he told me ‘here’s my card if happens again give me a call and we’ll take it from there.’ I appreciate that,” he said.

Perez sat with Career Service Administrative Secretary Rose Vasquez and discussed some concerns she had about the campus emergency procedures, and different vendors showing up campus and not obeying the rules set by the campus.

She said, “They chase after students to give them handouts, that [students] just throw on the floor, that causes littering. They [vendors] shouldn’t do that there’re rules they have to stay behind their table.”

Another one of her concerns was that there’s no quick way to know if a vendor has been authorized to be on campus or not.

While Vasquez talked to Perez, Strand was answering questions from other students.

He said, “The people I spoke to seemed to be interested in law enforcement as a career. They were asking me about how to apply and how the academy is and things like that.”

Communications and dance major Areal Hughes went to the meeting with questions about what are cops legally allowed to do.

She said, “I see things that cops do on the road that I feel are questionable, I wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth what’s legal, what’s illegal what are they allowed to do […] what allows them to give someone a ticket and what leads to someone accidentally getting shot, things like that.”

One of the reason Hughes felt comfortable talking to the police officers at the meeting because she had met a few of the cops before.

“I’ve met a few of the cops already and when I first [started coming] here I met one of the former chiefs but I also met Castillo.

“I would have dance class on weekends and he was nice enough to drive through the campus and when we got out of class he would say ‘alright you guys good. Do you need me to drive while you walk to the car?’ and even though we would say no he would still make sure that all of us got to our car safely because it was the weekend and sometimes we had night classes. That was good because he was taking that extra step in order to make sure that students on campus were really safe,” she said.

She also knew Barron she said, “he’s fantastic […] he really knows how to talk to students and knows how to calm everyone down […] and make sure everyone is safe.”

Hughes only had good things to say about the police officers she went on to say, “To be completely honest most of my good experiences with police officers, especially being an African-American female have actually been on this campus.

“That’s good to know because then I don’t have to be in fear when I go to school, I don’t have to fear police officers, I don’t have to think I’m going to get shot when I come to school.” She said.

Sandoval also agreed that students should get to know the police officers on campus because, “it will make students feel more safe more bonded with the officers […] they’re here to help us.”