Coffee and connections combine

Published 10:54 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018

Customers that stopped by the Chick-fil-A on College Drive Thursday morning for coffee and Chick-n-Minis may have seem some familiar faces from the Suffolk community at one of the tables.

Suffolk Sheriff E.C. Harris and Sgt. William Goodwin were at the fast-food restaurant for “Coffee with the Sheriff.” Harris has arranged several of these mornings at Chick-fil-A, Suffolk BBQ, The Egg Bistro and O’doodleDoo’s Donuts since June 2017 to meet with citizens about their concerns and discuss other outreach efforts.

“We love having them represented here,” Paige Dewey, marketing director for the College Drive Chick-fil-A, said about the Sheriff’s Office. “We want to do things that promote community togetherness.”

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With a cup of coffee splashed with cream and sugar, Harris greeted customers at their tables, including the regular, Thursday meeting of Nansemond River Young Life students and volunteers.

“It’s kind of cool just meeting him early in the morning,” said Nansemond River High School student Kenny Tallarico, 18.

One citizen Thursday morning asked about getting a concealed carry permit for when he walked out of work late at night. Harris also said his office has been getting a lot of calls about security at schools and churches.

“We’re helping the schools with some ideas,” he said, with the goal being to “harden” the school a bit for the sake of student and faculty safety.

Goodman has been with the Sheriff’s Office for more than 25 years. He’s seen the city become more populated over time, and the need to help youth in the city has grown as well.

“I think there’s a big necessity now to assist youth in the city, and to support the endeavors we have to help citizens,” he said.

Harris said a church security seminar is being arranged for this April, and elementary schools have asked his office to present the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program that helps in gun accident prevention among children.

He also talked about the Women’s Self Defense Class that will be held at the Suffolk Family YMCA this Wednesday, with more dates being scheduled based on the number of registrants thus far, he said.

Part of the success of these programs comes from office outreach, which helps ease the anxiety citizens may have for local law enforcement. This is especially important when situations arise that could be worsened by impulsive thinking, Harris said.

“Whether there’s going to be somebody, nobody or 20 people, I’m going to make myself available,” he said.

Visit facebook.com/SuffolkVASheriff or suffolkva.us/538/Sheriff for more information.