With heavy hearts Friday, officers across the St. Louis area hosted National Coffee with a Cop Day.
Police and citizens use the annual event to help get to know one another through conversations over cups of their favorite brew.
A group of people filled the sitting area inside Straub’s Market in Webster Groves Friday morning. Between sips laughs were had, ideas and concerns were voiced and bridges were built between officers and the people they serve.
“It’s an opportunity to meet them in a friendly, open environment, have coffee and just talk about life and concerns in the community,” said Webster Groves Police Lieutenant Greg Perks.
“It helps me remember they're real people. They've got kids, they've got worries,” said Webster Groves resident Fran Sudekum.
But Friday’s event had a different feel than in years past. Some of the conversations were darkened by talk of the shooting death of St. Louis county officer Blake Snyder. And for many, the emotion was inescapable.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to Blake’s family,” said Perks. “It's kind of choking me up a bit. I knew that kid.”
“It's amazing how a stranger... You get touched. It's hard,” said Sudekum.
While this group may not see eye to eye on everything, they all say there's no better time than now to get to know each other in a gathering like these.
“It's a mutual protection if you ask me,” said Webster Groves resident Cindy Lueder. “It's the citizens and the police officers protecting each other. And that only happens with relationships.”