By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
MARLBOROUGH – A handful of police officers and state troopers casually mingled and spoke with citizens April 27.
Part of a “Coffee with a Cop” outreach effort, the event brought those law enforcement personnel together outside Marlborough’s Lost Shoe Brewing Company. A handful of locals visited to sip coffee and discuss any number of items.
“It’s for the public to come out and meet some officers,” Marlborough Community Policing Officer Keith Moro told the Community Advocate in advance of the event.
Recent events contextualize outreach
Aimed at building goodwill and trust with the community, this event came in a unique cultural context, Moro acknowledged.
Just one week earlier, jurors in Minneapolis found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts related to the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
Moro did not mince words in reacting to that news.
“That guy deserved to get what he got,” he said of Chauvin, later referencing the way Chauvin pinned his knee on Floyd’s neck for an extended period of time. “What he did for nine minutes and 14 seconds was not right.”
Moro said this is a common opinion within the Marlborough Police Department.
“I’d rather talk to someone than go hands-on and use physical force,” he said of his own outlook on policing.
Acknowledging that there are some situations that require such force, Moro detailed an idea of “verbal judo.”
He worked as a field training officer for well over a decade, he recalled. In those years, Moro said he impressed core messages of de-escalation upon scores of new officers.
“It’s a win for you, it’s a win for the public, it’s a win for everybody,” he’d say.
Community policing officers lead event
The April 27 event came together following an inquiry from State Police Trooper Farrah Gray. A Community Liaison Trooper, Gray and other colleagues are currently making rounds of the state hosting a packed schedule of similar Coffee with a Cop events.
As the state police helped organize this, Marlborough police sent a number of officers. Moro was one of those officers.
Experienced in his role, Moro is working in an outreach position within the Marlborough Police Department that he said dates back years.
These days, he conducts mounted bike patrols, sometimes logging over 25 miles of riding in a given day. He makes trips to interact with people at places like Ward Park and works alongside fellow Community Policing Officer Bordon Wix.
He teaches a women’s self-defense class and has helped start Marlborough’s Youth Police Academy summer program. He works with the department’s jail diversion specialist to help people with mental health challenges navigate interactions with the law and law enforcement. And there are other tasks.
“I like it because every day is different,” he said.
Police seek more outreach opportunities
Every day may be different. But one thing Moro said he wants more of is outreach events like the one last month.
Having already held a handful over the years, Moro said he sees major value in any chance to show community members that their police officers are just like them.
“We’re no different than you,” he said. “We’re no different than the guy that owns the barbershop. We all have families. We’re all human beings.”