Crime

Miami cops want to have coffee with you at McDonald’s

Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes after being chosen the city’s new leader in December, 2014.
Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes after being chosen the city’s new leader in December, 2014. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

It’s a kinder, gentler approach: Instead of tough guys and gals talking about being predators or selling the department through sex appeal, in this 90-second video police are inviting you for coffee, no ulterior motive.

Produced by the Miami Police department’s new social-media center, the slow-paced video that essentially invites residents to have coffee with a cop, has a hometown feel. It contrasts sharply with past Miami police performances that portrayed the city in a much harsher light and gained unwanted national exposure.

This time, Miami Beach Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez is working the counter at a Miami Beach McDonald’s when a woman trying to get food at the drive-thru is ushered inside. She demands to speak with a supervisor. Using the walkie-talkie on his shoulder, Rodriguez gladly obliges and calls for his boss.

Enter a smiling Rodolfo Llanes. In full blues, the Miami police chief’s four stars are prominent as he begins to speak to the woman.

We’ll have “a great coversation over good coffee,” promises Llanes. “There will be no presentations.”

Then, a group of about two dozen cops sitting around tables in the back of restaurant blurt out: “Come on over.”

“It’s a different approach,” said Rodriguez. “Come have coffee. Just coffee and talk. No podiums of us talking to you.”

Added Llanes: “We want to foster conversation and build relationships with the people we serve in a non traditional police- community encounter.’’

Back in 2011, a video produced by Miami police gained national traction — but for all the wrong reasons. The promotional video for a reality television show portrayed Miami cops as the ultimate tough guys, with one cop saying he liked to hunt.

Of the video, former Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito said, “I wanted to have something where our guys were going out there proactively ... like predators.”

Then early last year a trailer for a recruitment video in Miami surfaced, causing more outrage. The trailer showed ripped female cops wearing bikinis with badges. Other shots included women in tight jeans and halter tops, their weapons and badges almost always visible.

So the newest video, with its smiling and helpful leaders and its family-oriented, almost Midwestern tone, is a complete turnaround from the previous ones.

Titled #CoffeewithaCop, the video explains how police departments throughout the county are inviting the public to come sit down and talk to them at various McDonald’s restaurants on Wednesday. Miami Beach police will meet the public from 9-11 a.m. at the eatery on 16th Street and Alton Road.

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