Coffee with a Cop comes to Clark

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CLARK, NJ — Not long ago, Clark resident Pam Siegel came home and found her front door wide open. She was scared. “They (the Clark police force) were there quickly and checked every room,” she said.
This is one of many positive stories Clark residents shared with the Clark police recently at Target at 45 Central Ave. in Clark, while having free coffee from Starbucks and other snacks.

Sgt. Theodore McKeown said, “Community outreach is huge. It’s all about the human connection. We had great traffic here today. We gave out a lot of stickers. It’s a centralized location. This Target serves eleven towns in the area.”

This is the fourth Coffee with a Cop event for the Clark police force and the first in Target.

Police Officer Giovannina Prisco has been on the police force since 2016. She said Coffee with a Cop is “very fun!” Prisco, who grew up in Clark, said, “People in town mean a lot to me. Homegrown is personal.”

Being on the police force has its challenges but Prisco said she meets them with positivity and a smile. “Treat people with respect, that’s what you get back,” she said.

Police Officer Michael Mazzulla said he also enjoys getting to know the public and building relationships with the community via Coffee with a Cop. He said, “Getting to know people, getting a different perspective on people’s thoughts, shedding our light – we’re human, too.”

With nine years in law enforcement, Mazzulla agreed with Prisco that respect goes a long way. He said, “I show people dignity. I’m very nice to people.”

Loretta Sanchez, of Winfield, came to Target to shop and said “it’s cool” seeing the police chatting with customers. “I’m disappointed I didn’t bring my 2-year-old son,” she said. “He would love the cops!”

Jennifer Smokowski is currently living in Clark but moving to North Carolina. She questioned McKeown about the cars with bright lights that have been coming around the neighborhood throughout the night.
McKeown explained it’s the cruise light initiative to defer automatic theft and home burglaries, and to deter crime. “My guys are driving around all night long,” he said.

“I think it’s good,” Jennifer said. “I grew up in Clark. I love it. Keep up the great work.”

In response, McKeown said, “We’re close to our community. People know us.”

Kerry Feeney, of Clark, was with her 4-year-old son, Patrick. “We love the police,” she said. “Patrick was a policeman for Halloween. They help us and keep us safe.”

“They get the bad guys!” Patrick said.

Coffee with a Cop is a nationwide event that brings police officers and the community members they serve together – over coffee – to discuss issues and learn more about each other. The mission of Coffee with a Cop is to break down the barriers between police officers and the citizens they serve. To learn more about Coffee with a Cop, visit:

Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta