How Police and Donuts Became a Thing – Indiana Cop Tells All
The stereotype that all cops love donuts is one that has been around for decades and has become a running gag in TV shows and movies for many, many years. The association between the two has been used as jokes and even insults toward police officers for as long as I can remember. Locally, the Hoses Team often uses it on social media in the months and weeks leading up to the annual Guns & Hoses charity boxing event at Ford Center to poke fun at their Guns competitors. But have you ever wondered why it's become a thing? I decided to find out by going straight to someone who deals with the effects of the stereotype on a regular basis, an Indiana police officer.
How the Association Between Cops and Donuts was Started
Taylor Merriss is an officer with the Evansville Police Department and surprised us in studio on Friday with a box of donuts from Donut Bank to celebrate National Donut Day. Of course, a cop walking into a room obviously doesn't help shake the stigma, but I did get a free donut out of the deal, so who am I to say anything. Leslie and I asked her to sit down with us and talk about how this whole cops and donuts thing came to be. Take a listen to hear what she said.
The website, Coffee or Die, validates Taylor's story. Here's their version, referring specifically to officers who worked the late-night shift:
When not actively responding to calls, patrolling their areas of responsibility, or doing the myriad things cops have to do during a typical 10-hour shift, police officers have to find a place to do the bulk of police work: writing reports...writing reports is a duty as old as walking any beat. And back in the day, cops didn’t have a lot of options for where they could post up and get some paperwork done...by the late 1970s, the idea of a 24-hour convenience store seemed insane to most people...The same goes for grocery stores. Outside of major cities, all-night diners were rare, and even in the 1960s, only 10% of restaurants were open all night, catering mainly to truckers...But there was one place a tired, hungry peace officer could go to grab a cup of coffee, some food, and maybe get some work done — the good ol’ doughnut shop.
Coffee or Die goes on to say the budding relationship between the officers and the shop was beneficial for the shop beyond the fact they made a few bucks selling the coffee and donuts to the officers. Because they were some of the few restaurants that either stayed open late or opened up early for the breakfast crowd, they became targets for criminals looking for an easy way to steal some cash in the middle of the night. The regular presence of the officers essentially provided them with free security guards.
Coffee with a Cop
Instead of trying to shake the stigma that cops and donuts go hand-in-hand, many police departments have embraced it by making local donut shops a place where they can meet with residents to talk about anything and everything through the Coffee with a Cop program. Started by the Hawthorne, California Police Department in 2011, the community-engagement program has been adopted by departments across the U.S. and around the world, including the Evansville Police Department which hosts its version on the third Tuesday of each month at either a Donut Bank or Chick-fil-A location in the city. Check out the remainder of this year's schedule below and make plans to attend.