Horses, Coffee and Donuts All Part of NB Police Department’s Mobile Cafe

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Drake Donatell, 5, and NBPD Motor Officer Mark Hamilton / photo by Richard Simon

If one focuses on voices in a crowd rather than the sights, a different world emerges.

For example, at the fifth Mobile Cafe community outreach program presented by the Newport Beach Police Department on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Newport Pier, comments such as “Wow, mommy, I want to pet the horsies,” to “They are really a bunch of nice guys!” could be heard.

When this reporter “opened” his eyes, he saw a crowd of upwards to 50 people at any one time chatting it up around the information canopy while sampling a cop’s “traditional” fare: steaming coffee and donuts (served alongside a selection of Community Relations brochures and one-on-one Q&A opportunities with the police).

It was obvious that none of the well-conditioned officers there made donuts part of their regular diet.

A cross-section of Newport residents, as well as visitors from surrounding communities, milled about, while not far away several obviously transient men slept on stained blankets flanked by their meager possessions. They seemed totally oblivious that four representatives from the “Be Well Mobile Response Team” stood by to share information about their purpose of aiding individuals living on the streets.

James Wright, 2; mom Amy Tupa; Motor Officer Mark Hamilton

Two-year-old James Wright, looking “cool” in shades, shyly sat astride Motor Officer Mark Hamilton’s powerful Beemer 1250 RT, while mom, Amy Tupa, stood proudly by her mini-cop-for-the-moment. He was still too young to fit into a free bicycle helmet that the Department was giving to any kid who needed one. Funding for those helmets was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Government Office of Traffic and Safety.

Drake Donatell, 5, of Irvine, looked proud on his first motorcycle. If the last name sounds familiar to football fans, Drake’s dad, Tommy, has been a backfield coach for the Los Angeles Chargers for the past two years.

“I love those horsies” whispered five-year-old Olive Ferguson to her dad Ryan as her younger sister sat comfortably saddled in her dad’s arms. The horses were a “surprise bonus” for the Costa Mesa, family that frequently saunters the boardwalk on weekends, Ryan said.

Officers Brandon Boehme-Decen and Mark Hamilton stood under the canopy by the many informational brochures to talk about traffic safety, especially as it concerns the proliferation of e-bikes.

Rider safety is a major concern to those in the traffic division, both said. To that end, the officers present regular rider-safety programs at various schools, the most recent being at Ensign Middle School, where over the course of one day more than 1,000 students were instructed on general bike safety during their PE classes.

Dad Ryan Ferguson, Marlo, 5, Olive 1, with two members of the NBPD mounted police

At the end of the presentations, students had to pass a test, after which they would receive a success sticker on their helmets. Without that sticker, students could not ride their bikes to school.

“Based on our observations, every student riding to school had placed a sticker on their helmet,” Officer Hamilton apprised.

When it comes to safety, Hamilton added that “parents, educators, as well as pedestrians” also have to be equally informed and concerned about road safety and rules of the road.

A handy three-fold flyer outlining rules and laws is available at police headquarters (870 Santa Barbara Dr.) or by Googling Bike Safety, Newport Beach.

“Our NBPD Mobile Cafe is a great way for our City employees to enjoy time with members of this amazing community,” observed Acting NBPD Chief Joe Cartwright. “It’s all about building relationships. At the end of the day, we all walk away from the experience with a renewed sense of purpose and appreciation for each other.”

The Mobile Cafe: definitely the relaxed way to communicate with the NBPD rather than through the driver’s side window.

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