HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The baristas at Starbucks got some help last week right after the lunch crowd crush, with more than a dozen Hillsborough police officers in uniform helping to serve coffee, frappuccinos, shakes, cappuccinos and pastries – mixed in with some earnest conversations.

Led by Police Chief Darren Powell, who spoke with customers and PBA President Chris Giraldi, who worked behind the counter, the police were invited to participate in Starbucks “Coffee with a Cop” national campaign by manager Jamie Kroposky.

“We’ve never been this packed between one and two,” she said while taking a break on the patio in front of the coffee shop on Route 206.

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Behind her, two Hillsborough Police bicycles leaned up against the brick façade of the building.

There were several police patrol cars parked outside, with one officer accommodating kids’ requests to sit behind the steering wheel and turning on the emergency lights.

Inside, another police officer allowed himself to be handcuffed by an inquisitive youngster.

“Most of our guys enjoy the interaction with the young kids,” Powell said. “They want to see the emergency lights, know what’s inside the police cars and they always ask questions about the tools they carry with them."

Powell was surrounded by residents most of the time.

“I was very pleased with the turnout,” Powell said, crediting Giraldi and Kroposky for organizing the event, “and pleased with how it went.”

Powell said he fielded a variety of questions, from traffic safety and the DARE student intervention program to suggestions of hosting similar events at other coffee stops in town at nights or on weekends.

“The reaction was very positive,” Giraldi added. “People seemed to be happy that we were doing this.”

Powell said many of the officers were there on their own time.

“The biggest benefit was the face-to-face interaction and people recognizing that we are approachable; sometimes people are led to believe otherwise,” he added.

“I definitely want to continue doing these events at other locations and at other times and weekends,” Powell said.