CAMP VERDE – A few years ago when Oscar Berrelez retired from the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, he took up professional residence at the Yavapai College Police Department.
One day, he served hot chocolate at the college’s cafeteria and spent time with the college’s various students. Cocoa with the PoPo was born.
“It became a pretty big hit, got around the college pretty fast, and the cocoa sold out that day,” he said. “I found that it was a great opportunity to get to know the students at the college whom I rarely had any contact with.”
Back at the Marshal’s Office since late last year, Dep. Berrelez would like Cocoa with the PoPo to continue. But this time, he’d like to do it in partnership with Camp Verde Unified School District.
According to Berrelez, the name Cocoa with the PoPo is “geared more toward the younger generation.”
“This would be a great opportunity for CVMO to interact with the students and staff at Camp Verde schools,” Berrelez said.
Berrelez said his idea is to host Cocoa with the PoPo at the various Camp Verde schools in a manner “similar to Coffee with a Cop.”
“We could interact with students, staff and parents to answer any questions they have,” he said.
Tuesday, Danny Howe, the school district’s administrator-in-charge, told the board of Berrelez’s idea.
“It’s about building relationships, building trust, building that community atmosphere,” Howe said.
According to Berrelez, South Verde Principal Brian Tankesley asked him to be a part of a safety committee and school advisory committee. As a result, Cocoa with the PoPo “was something I suggested we implement at our schools.”
“This is something I am definitely interested in,” Tankesley said. “Once we are back from spring break, we can format a plan at our next school advisory meeting.”
Still in its infancy stage, there are “currently no dates or times set” for Cocoa with the PoPo, Berrelez said. But he is “looking to get handouts from MatForce regarding drugs and alcohol use.
“My hope is CVMO and the school district will purchase the cocoa and CVMO deputies could hand to cocoa, giving us the opportunity to interact with students and staff at the schools,” Berrelez said.