“Coffee With Cops” opens volunteering opportunity for special young man

Sakshi Venkatraman
Twenty-one-year-old Stuart Paduano poses for a photo with his best friend, McGruff the Crime Dog, at Coppell’s biannual Coffee With Cops on Saturday.

After July’s fatal shooting of five members of the Dallas Police Department, the outpouring of support for Coppell’s law enforcement struck a chord with officers across the city.


On Saturday, to thank their community for the food, letters and goodwill they received– starting the morning after the shooting– CPD and Frost Bank treated any comers to Coffee With Cops, a national trend that is designed to be an open conversation between law enforcement and the communities they serve.


Members of the Coppell community, young and old, came to the McDonald’s on Denton Tap Road to show support and appreciation for the police department.


None, however, were more enthusiastic than 21-year-old Stuart Paduano.


At a young age, Stuart’s interest in cars evolved into a love for law enforcement, specifically law enforcement vehicles. According to his mother, Maureen, a former teacher at Coppell Middle School East, he has seen every cop movie out there. His favorite toy is his stuffed McGruff the Crime Dog, which he has had since he was in kindergarten at Austin Elementary.


“He keeps asking me about new movies about police officers,” Maureen said. “He’s watched all the Lethal Weapons and those are from the 80s; he loves Mall Cop too, he actually wants to get a Segway.”


Stuart, a 2013 Coppell High School alumnus, has severe autism. But that doesn’t stop his undying affection for cops, dancing, transportation and pretty girls.


At McDonald’s, Stuart interacted with several officers, posing “what if” questions, such as “what happens if you ride a bike at night without a light on it?”


When asked how he felt about police officers, Stuart’s answer was simple: happy.


It’s Stuart’s second year at Coffee With Cops, a biannual event, and he’s ready to put himself out there. So ready, in fact, that he took his interests all the way up to Captain Danny Barton.


A 25 year law enforcement veteran, Barton served as an SRO at Coppell High School in 1998 and 1999. When met with Stuart’s request for a volunteer position at CPD, he was deeply moved.


“Sometimes, I have a bad day and I feel sorry for myself,” Barton said. “Meet a guy like that and, you know, I have no problems. We can really learn from him. I think my officers would get a thrill out of it.”


Barton says Stuart reminded him of CPD’s primary purpose: to make life better for the citizens of the community.

When [Stuart’s] mom approached me, I said ‘we’re going to make this happen’. That’s our culture in Coppell.

— Captain Danny Barton


“We try to emphasize to our new officers that everyday when you come into worth, you have to have a ‘why’, you have to have a purpose,” Barton said. “We tell them that they’re going to affect people that they’ve never met. This is an example of that. When his mom approached me, I said ‘we’re going to make this happen’. That’s our culture in Coppell.”


According to Barton, there are plenty of jobs Stuart could help with at the department.


“We have a small window to make an impact in his life and we need to do as much as we can,” Barton said. “We’re not very good housekeepers at the police station, he could help with that. One thing I mentioned to his mom is that he can help wipe down motorcycles after they get in.”


Barton also plans to let Stuart inspect patrol cars to make sure they have all their materials before they leave the station, a routine practice that takes around 15 minutes.


The department plans to get Stuart a CPD shirt that he can wear while working to make him feel like part of the team.


While Stuart is enthralled by his volunteering opportunity, Maureen is just happy that he lives in a safe city, with such amazing role models to look up to.


“What I love about Coppell is that we feel so safe,” Maureen said. “I mean, there’s always the possibility of crime, but for the most part, you just feel safer than in other areas. All the officers are so nice and helpful.”


Amidst the eventfulness of the morning, CPD Chief Mac Tristan wanted the community to know how truly grateful his department is to the Coppell community.


“Sometimes, we’re a little overburdened with fixing society’s ills,” Tristan said. “As police officers, we need to ask ourselves the question ‘how are we impacting people’s lives?’ There are so many misconceptions about police, and the only way we can change those is one person at a time.”


Staff writers Rutuja Joshi and Kelly Wei contributed to this report.