WASKOM — Conversation and coffee jumpstarted the day at Waskom’s McDonald’s this week as the local franchise hosted its first annual “Coffee with a Cop” event, fostering a comfortable atmosphere for residents to meet and engage with local law enforcement.

“The reason why we have ‘Coffee with a Cop’ is to show our appreciation for the things that they do in our community,” said Waskom McDonald’s general manager, Justin Martinez. “The police … they are important to us,” he said.

Jean Mosley, public relations director for the Griggs Enterprise McDonald’s company, said this year the franchise conducted the national “Coffee with a Cop” program at its East Texas locations, particularly Waskom and Jefferson.

“What it does, it gives the citizens and the police department an opportunity to come together, kind of bridge the gap when it comes to communicating and finding out what’s actually going on within the community,” said Mosely.

“We have a lot of citizens that may not want to make that phone call to the police department, may not want to go to the police department and it gives them a real informal setting where they can sit, drink coffee, have a meal and actually discuss different things that are going on within the community with the local police department where they don’t feel intimidated,” she said. “It lets them know that the police department, they are human also; they’re compassionate, they have feelings and they want to know what’s going on. It’s just a relaxed atmosphere for the police department and local citizens.”

Attendees, along with police officers, all received free coffee and souvenir coffee mugs to commemorate the occasion.

“Any time they come back to the local McDonald’s or traveling, they can take that coffee mug with them and get free coffee, compliments of McDonald’s,” said Mosely.

Waskom Police Chief Westy Meisenheimer said he appreciates the partnership with McDonald’s.

“This is the first time they’ve done this promotion, ‘Coffee with a Cop’, here in Waskom,” the police chief said. “We’re very excited about it. It’s a great thing for us.”

Meisenheimer said the local McDonald’s has been supportive of the community and his department since the establishment’s grand opening in October 2015.

“It’s been a great partnership with the city and the police department,” he said.

Meisenheimer said McDonald’s Owner/Operator Roy Griggs has had a visible presence in the area, frequenting the community a number of times since locating there.

“We just can’t say enough good things about it,” said Meisenheimer. “We’re sure glad they’re here and we’re glad to be here.”

The police chief said he and his staff received a warm reception from residents at Wednesday’s come-and-go event.

“A lot of them just have a lot of concern (for officers),” he said. “Just about everyone of them said: ‘Be safe out there.’”

“We hear that a lot,” said Meisenheimer. “That makes you feel pretty good getting that kind of support.”

Resident Scott Havins said he considered the “Coffee with a Cops” event a great idea.

“I think it’s a good idea for the community and the police to have a one-on-one today and get to know each other and build relationships and build trust,” said Havins. “I’ve enjoyed today and meeting people.”