There was a lot of police activity inside of on Thursday night.
officers grilled each and every customer with questions: “What can I get for you tonight?” and “What would you like to drink?”
The restaurant hosted Tip-A-Cop night, a nationwide fundraising program administered by law enforcement agencies to benefit the Special Olympics of Northern California. (Read about Union City's team .)
According to officer Ryan Seto, who led Thursday’s program, the UCPD holds two to three Tip-A-Cop nights a year at various restaurants.
On each restaurant table was an envelope and brochure about the program. Customers were given the opportunity to leave a donation or buy a UCPD t-shirt to support the special needs organization.
Officers were paired with waiters and waitresses from the restaurant. As quickly as they’d respond to emergency calls, the officers tended to the customers’ needs, fetching drinks, helping to take orders, swiftly picking up finished plates, and even wiping down tables.
“They’re doing good,” said hostess Bridgette Watkins as she observed the various volunteers spend the evening in her co-workers’ shoes. “They’re having a good time and they’re taking it seriously.”
Five police officers and 15 members of the Police Explorers volunteered their time for the event. Despite the rain, customers came out to support both the UCPD and the Special Olympics.
According to Seto, the officers raised $795 from their three-hour shift, with $700 coming from customer donations and the remainder from t-shirt sales.
They usually raise anywhere between $500 and $800 at each Tip-A-Cop event, Seto said.
“It’s part of giving back to the community,” said Seto, a member of UCPD’s community policing program. “It gives us the opportunity to make positive contacts with the community. We reassure people that we’re here to help them.”
Community events such as the Tip-A-Cop nights also give law enforcement an opportunity to address community members’ questions.
“One time a kid asked, ‘Why don’t you throw marbles at the bad guys? That would hurt,’” Seto said.
From 6 to 9 p.m. at Chili's, officer Brigid Dinneen paired up with server Wayne Rodriguez. She didn’t seem out of her element as she scurried across the restaurant floor, often with two dishes in hand. It was her fourth time participating in the program.
In addition to benefitting a good cause, Dinneen volunteers her time because she enjoys engaging with residents.
“It’s a one-on-one, positive experience with the community,” she said.