“Cocoa with a Cop” program allows students to learn from local police

A+Delaware+Sheriff+answers+students+questions+during+Cocoa+with+a+Cop+at+Hayes+on+March+22.

Chris DeRosa

A Delaware Sheriff answers students’ questions during “Cocoa with a Cop” at Hayes on March 22.

By Kristen Smith, Rutherford B. Hayes High School

On March 22, Hayes hosted the second “Cocoa with a Cop” program for students to ask questions and interact with local law enforcement while enjoying hot cocoa. The school started this program during the 2019 school year and had the intention of hosting this day once a school year before the pandemic interfered.
School librarian Sarah Ressler and School Resource Officer Joe Kolp are responsible for the details and organization of the program. Ressler put together the activity stations and invited classes to come to the LRC, while Kolp contacted local law enforcement to come.
The goal of the program is to make teenagers look at law enforcement from a different point of view.
“I loved the program last time because we had students who got questions answered, and it can sometimes be intimidating to talk to police officers out in the community,” Ressler said. “This is a good way to find out who our officers are and ask questions in a pretty non-threatening environment.”
Not only is the program beneficial for students, but it is also helpful for police officers to create connections with teenagers in the community.
“The police department had a blast doing it; the guys love to come in here and hang out,” Kolp said.
Along with answering questions, the program also provided students with practice driving tests and information about driving. This allowed for students to test their knowledge and get helpful tips from the police force.
Kolp invited officers from the Delaware County Police Department, Highway Patrol officers, Sheriff’s office and K-9 unit. The variety of officers allowed students to meet several different faces and gain familiarity with different law enforcement roles.
History teacher Adam Haynes said he took his Contemporary World Issues Honors class to the program in hope to bridge the gap between citizens and law enforcement.
“I think with the current issues regarding law enforcement today…it’s great to bring different people together to really have conversations and better communication, to have an understanding of what really the job entails,” Haynes said. “I think students will probably find there are a lot of law enforcement officers that are community members and parents as well as parents of students who attend the school.”
Haynes also took the opportunity to connect the curriculum for his class to the program and hopes students can learn something.
“We don’t have a unit specifically on law enforcement but we do have a unit on human rights,” Haynes said. “We can definitely make those connections of how our system of government and how our law enforcement officers are different.”
The program is an event Hayes would like to host more often and hopes to see its return next school year.
“I really enjoyed connecting with our local officers, I think it’s awesome to see them in a different point of view,” freshman Natalie Madden said. “I hope that the students will feel more comfortable knowing that they’ve met officers.”

This story was originally published on Hayes Talisman on March 25, 2022.