Half a dozen Lexington police officers gathered Thursday morning under the awning at North Lime Coffee & Donuts to take questions and discuss important issues with residents. For 4-year-old Braxton Fleming, the pressing question was whether a Taser would work on a car.
“I don’t think so,” Officer Jonathon Wilson said. “But I bet it’d work on a dinosaur, though.”
“Dinosaurs are extinct,” pointed out Skyler, Braxton’s 7-year-old brother.
The conversation was light at the “Coffee with Cops” event, but Ryan Fleming said he thought his sons were learning a lot in their talk with Wilson.
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“I know my boys are enjoying it. It’s an occupation that they see a lot of the negative things that go on, but they don’t really get to see the human side of the officers,” Fleming said. “They get to realize that they are really nice people behind the badges and just realize that they are here to help and protect.”
Wilson, who has been with the department for five years, has a 6-year-old son and said talking with the two boys was the highlight of the event for him.
“I think it’s important for children to know that we’re here for them, to protect them,” Wilson said. “If they have questions, they can come to us.”
Thursday’s event was organized in part by Billie Mallory, founder of East End Community Development Corp. She said it’s important for people in the East End to interact and build relationships with police.
“We live in a neighborhood with high crime, and not everyone trusts or cares for the police,” Mallory said. “We happen to think that we have wonderful police officers.”
Police Chief Mark Barnard and the department were willing to participate in the event, Mallory said.
“It’s a great idea,” Wilson said. “It’s wonderful for the community to be able to actually interact with us, ask us questions. What do we do? Why do we do what we do?”
Some adults who stopped by the coffee shop also discussed those questions with officers, but Braxton and Skyler took a more hands-on approach, holding handcuffs and seeing images of themselves through Wilson’s body-worn camera.
“I do think they’re learning a lot. They love all the gadgets they carry,” Ryan Fleming said. “They enjoy seeing up close what they don’t usually get to see up close.”