On Tuesday morning, teams of Riverhead Town police officers converged on four local establishments around 7:30 a.m. They weren’t there to arrest anyone, though: The officers simply wanted to hear what residents had to say over a cup of coffee.
There were three officers at the Route 58 McDonald’s, three at Wading River Deli, two at Express Deli on Osborn Avenue and two at Duffy’s Deli in Jamesport, according to Sgt. Jonathan Devereaux.
“This is a national campaign,” he said. “It’s been successful throughout the country, so it’s something we wanted to try.”
Riverhead Town resident Judy Werner, who spoke with officers at McDonald’s, believes the initiative will be a success.
“I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how huge this will be,” she said, adding that the program will make it easier for officers and civilians to give helpful information to one another. “They’re trying to bring back what I used to call in the 1980s being an old-fashioned neighborhood beat cop, and they’re doing a good job at it.”
On Tuesday, Sgt. Devereaux was joined at McDonald’s by officers Brian Clements and Michael Carrieri. The fast-food establishment paid for the coffee, Sgt. Devereaux said.
At Express Deli, where many customers speak Spanish, officers Byron Perez — who is fluent in that language — and Sean Evans also chatted with residents.
“I spoke to some of the people coming in and out, just to say hello,” Mr. Perez said. “There was a very positive response.”
Town resident Bonnie Roth had a conversation with officers about police in the U.S. and Germany, where she lived for 17 years.
“In Germany, the officers all ride in pairs and you don’t see as much of the police, particularly on traffic issues, because there are so many traffic cameras everywhere,” she said.
Sgt. Devereaux said his interactions were positive.
“Judging by the success, I think we’ll continue to do this a couple times a year,” he said.
Photo: Sgt. Jonathan Devereaux (from left) and officers Brian Clements and Michael Carrieri with resident Judy Werner at the Route 58 McDonald’s. (Credit: Tim Gannon)