Local law enforcement officers invited community members to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee with them this week.
Officials from the Kentucky State Police Post 9 in Pikeville and the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department participated in the event, held Wednesday at Billy Ray’s Restaurant.
KSP Post 9 Captain Donald J. Shearer said Coffee with a Cop has been observed nationally for the past several years, and his team decided to participate for the first time this year alongside other KSP posts in the state.
“We just try to have positive public interactions,” Shearer said. “A lot of times, especially around here, a lot of the encounters we have with people are negative. We just want to come out, sit down, have a cup of coffee, talk with people and let them know that we’re human beings, too. There’s a human being behind the badge and the uniform.”
Shearer, a native of Central Kentucky, came to Eastern Kentucky in 2003 and has lived in Floyd County since then. Now, he calls it “home.” He’s held various roles in his law enforcement career and stepped up as Post 9 captain about a year ago.
He said working in law enforcement is “a calling.”
“This isn’t a nine-to-five job, by any means,” he said. “It’s a calling. It really is. It’s a lifestyle. It’s 24-7. You’re never really off duty.”
Lt. Chris Hicks of Prestonsburg answered that call years ago. He said he got into law enforcement because he wanted to help people.
“I just wanted to help. I wanted to make a difference,” he said.
He participated in Coffee with a Cop to show community members that he cares.
“They just usually see us on the side of the road on a traffic stop or they see us during bad times,” Hicks said. “They just need to know that everybody up there (at Post 9), everybody got into law enforcement to help out and to just be there for them. Everybody’s got kids and everybody’s got families and we try our best to make the community safe. We’re there for them. They just see the bad side of us all of the time. We want them to know that we’ve got big hearts and we’re there for them. We try to make everything safe and be there when they need us.”
He talked about his nine-year-old son and how he tries to be active in the community. He also talked about how his training helps him deal with a job that puts his life in danger.
“That’s just something you don’t think about. You just react. You’re training kicks in and you react,” he said. “After it’s all over with, you sit and think about it, what could have happened. It keeps you up a lot of nights, but when it’s going on and when it’s happening, you don’t think about it. You’re training takes over and you try to do what’s right and you try to help everybody.”
Fitzpatrick Baptist Church Pastor Tommy Reed, one of a handful of people who turned out for Coffee with a Cop, said he wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to thank these officers.
“I’m here because I love and respect all of these people, and I was raised to be that way,” he said. “I was raised to respect law enforcement and appreciate them.”
His church held an appreciation service for Post 9 this year.
“I’ve been an informal chaplain for Post 9 and the city and when I heard there was Coffee with a Cop, I just wanted to come out and just be with them because I see them as superheroes, and I always have since I was a kid,” he said. “Now, that I’m a pastor, I see the human side of them, too, and I want to bless them as much as they bless me.”
He and others who attended the event talked about how people generally just see a uniform when they look at law enforcement officers.
“They’re ordinary people who answered an extraordinary call, and they rarely get anything good… They’re very decent and strong men and women that are here to protect and serve our community and we need to be grateful for that, because without it, it’d be lawlessness. I think we need to develop an attitude of gratitude toward law enforcement. We’ve lost that in our society.”