Coffee, cops and concerned citizens — A great way to improve communication – The Gardner News

The assisted living facility has previously hosted the very popular Senior Police Academy

GARDNER — Residents at the Heywood Wakefield Commons are inviting members of the public to join them and sit down and chat with members of local law enforcement.

The assisted living facility will host an outdoors “Coffee with a Cop” event between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on June 29. 

The event, which is aimed at fostering improved relations between law enforcement and residents in the communities they serve, is a partnership between the Massachusetts State Police and the Gardner Police Department. In addition, K9 officers from the departments in Westminster and Lunenburg will also be at the event.

Kristy Livingston, director of marketing and admissions at Heywood Wakefield Commons, said the idea for hosting the coffee event came about after members of the Gardner police began making monthly trips to the facility to visit with residents and discuss their concerns.

“It gives our residents a chance to interact with police officers and to get informed about anything they should be concerned about, like scams that are specifically targeting the elderly population in the area,” Livingston said. “(The police) had mentioned that they do these outdoor events with the state police and that they were looking for a place with a pretty large parking lot, so we said that we had a very large parking lot and we’d be happy to host.”

Livingston said the Coffee with a Cop event is especially important to some elderly residents because it provides them with a chance to find out what is going on, good or bad, in their community.

“Sometimes not everybody looks at our elder population and our seniors as needing to know everything that’s going on, but it’s just as important to them as it is to everybody in the city of Gardner,” Livingston said. “So, I think it’s important for them to be involved and be made aware of things like scams that target seniors. So, they always want to have that education so they know what to be aware of.”

In addition to coffee, Heywood Wakefield Commons will also be providing pastries and hot dogs. Ice cream and other frozen treats will be available courtesy of the Fidelity Bank Frosty Flyer ice cream truck, according to officials.

Any resident of any age will probably learn something of value while attending the Coffee with a Cop event, Livingston said.

“And I think it really is a good opportunity for folks who maybe have concerns about what’s going on in their city but aren’t concerned enough or don’t feel comfortable calling the police department about something. This gives them the opportunity to have a casual interaction with the police,” she said. “I think (this event) is a good opportunity to feel that comfort in knowing that their police department is a resource, and that they’re here to help and not be an adversary.”

Livingston said Heywood Wakefield Commons had hosted Senior Police Academy events at the facility in the past, and that each class had been filled to capacity with residents eager to learn about the everyday operations of their local police department. She said there was little doubt about which class proved to be the most popular among the residents.

“I think the most talked-about session involved the K9s because they’re officers, too, and everybody loved learning about what they do,” Livingston said.

No registration is necessary to attend; the event is free and open to the public outside at the Heywood Wakefield Commons parking lot at 50 Pine St. 

For more information, contact Livingston at 978-632-8292 or