Dozens of Grays Harbor County residents young and old dropped by Starbucks Thursday evening for Badges & Brews, a chance to interact with Aberdeen and county emergency personnel in a more relaxed environment.
The event was a success, said Sgt. Gary Sexton, member of the Aberdeen Police Department, who helped organize it.
“The crowd is great,” Sexton said in an interview during the event. “I see a lot of visiting going on, which is the idea.”
Members of the APD, Aberdeen Fire Department, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office and Aberdeen’s Emergency Management all took part in partnership with Starbucks. Verizon and Aaron’s also helped by lending the event their parking lots to help accommodate the larger number of participants, grown from when the event was simply Coffee with a Cop, last held in 2019.
“There’s a lot of people coming and petting the dogs,” said John Watkins of West Coast Search Dogs, who took part along with 7-year-old Belgian Malinois Hanna. “It’s good for the Harbor to get people out, to see what’s around.”
Guests witnessed demonstrations from firefighters, from the sheriff’s office, from APD’s dog handlers, including a biting demonstration by APD apprehension dog Ronin.
“We’ve had a lot of kids come through,” said AFD firefighter/paramedic Lorenzo Ontiveros during the event. “We’re spraying the water and having fun.”
Members of the various organizations weren’t just present, but actively competing, from a latte-making competition judged by Aberdeen Mayor Pete Schave, to a cold-brew coffee chugging competition won by firefighter/paramedic Austin Wendt, to a silent auction for gifts donated by various companies.
“This is great — mixing with the people, seeing all the kids having a blast,” Schave said. “I don’t drink a lot of coffee but when I do, I get a latte with about half the vanilla they usually put in it.”
The participation with the kids is especially important, said Chief Criminal Deputy Darrin Wallace of the GHCSO.
“I think it’s good to get the kids out here. Show them the police car, play with the lights,” Wallace said in an interview. “Show we’re not scary people.”
The store did a brisk trade as well, said Starbucks store manager Jaki Meeks in an interview, with the expanded space giving people a little more elbow room.
“It’s been wonderful,” Meeks said. “We’ve had a lot of space.”
The event garnered about $2,400 in donations to be split among a number of charities, Meeks said. About 200 people showed up for the evening.