Grabbing coffee with cops

PRESIDIO — Around 15 law enforcement officers — including local cops, sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol agents — turned up at The Bean Cafe in Presidio Wednesday morning for Coffee with a Cop.

Along with Border Patrol, cops and deputies, there were also some Presidio school officers and at least one person from the Presidio/Ojinaga port of entry. With the skies outside still dark, they milled around and socialized.

This Presidio gathering was one of a number of “Coffee with a Cop” events held in Presidio and Brewster counties Wednesday, with one at Marfa City Hall and another in Alpine.

But only one of those towns — Presidio — sits right along the border, with the Mexican city of Ojinaga on the skyline.

Just a handful of civilians showed up to grab coffee. None of them were apparently aware of the event.

Melissa Trevizo, one local, said she was a regular customer at The Bean Cafe. She’d just stopped by for coffee, she said.

“When I came by I saw everybody standing [here],” she said. At first, she thought something was wrong.

Trevizo didn’t have any particular questions for law-enforcement. Still, a while later, she found herself sitting at a table with a couple officers — though it wasn’t to ask questions, per se.

“I know all of them,” she said.

The mood was relaxed, with no end in sight to the free coffee. Derek Boyle, a patrol agent in charge at the Border Patrol Presidio Station, described his locale of responsibility as a “hidden gem” — a peaceful outpost compared to other areas in Texas.

Boyle described this event as part of the agency’s community outreach mission. Border Patrol often has meetings with ranchers — including town halls and one-on-one meetings to discuss concerns and operational logistics — but this was the first time they’d held a meet-up for everyday Presidio residents, he said.

“We’re doing this one for the non-ranchers — the guys we don’t see all the time,” he said.

Many of the officers from different agencies already knew each other. With few officers for a huge territory in and around Presidio, many find themselves taking on public-safety tasks that are outside their more commonly known areas of responsibility — like, for example, when Border Patrol agents helped with emergency medical calls.

Sergeant Margarito Hernandez with the Presidio Police Department, said it was “a good thing to get around and get to know each other.”

“Every day’s different,” he said of his work with Presidio police. “We love the job [and] helping people.”

Joe Portillo, city administrator, stopped by at one point. Even with few non-cops in attendance, he viewed the event as a success.

Law-enforcement agencies, he said, often had a lot of “inner-agency pride.” And while that was a good thing, it could sometimes mean that “you don’t get communication” among them, he said.

Coffee with a Cop, he said, wasn’t only about meeting residents. It was also about getting law-enforcement officers from different groups to break bread together.

That is especially important out here, where resources are thin. Officers from all the agencies often have to “wear multiple hats,” he said.

Hector Armendariz, co-owner of the The Bean Cafe with his wife, Sonia, was thrilled with the gathering. He hoped there would be more Coffee with a Cop events in the future.

“We love what they do for our town,” Armendariz said of the officers. “Every time they want to do this, we open our hearts.”