When Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies talk about a tradition of service, they’re not usually talking about pancakes and coffee — but at La Cañada’s Hill Street Café Friday, the script got flipped when officers went from giving orders to taking them.
Crescenta Valley and Altadena sheriff’s station employees participated in a “Tip-A-Cop” fundraiser on behalf of the Special Olympics, serving up food and drinks to patrons and securing “tips” in the form of donations that will help local athletes participate in Olympic events.
“Today’s my day off but I’m here — this is just always been something I’ve enjoyed being a part of,” said the CV station’s Lt. Mark Slater, admitting the job change was a tough one. “Spending three or four hours as a waiter or waitress is hard. It gives you a lot of respect for people who do this job.”
By the time breakfast segued into lunch, Hill Street’s dining room was crowded with people who’d come to support sons, daughters and friends in uniform.
Glendale residents Jane and Dave Walden chuckled to see son-in-law Deputy Pete Liberda of the Altadena station serving sandwiches instead of search warrants.
“What they’re doing is a great cause,” Jane Walden said. “And they’re earning money for the Special Olympics — anything having to do with kids we support.”
Nearby, Pasadena’s Tiffany Hammond and Altadena resident Peter Scaggs chatted with sheriff’s employees as they enjoyed their meals. Hammond said she’d wanted to surprise Scaggs, whose deputy son, Lorenzo, planned to participate before being assigned a double shift.
“I got kind of scared when I got in here and saw lots of uniforms,” Peter Scaggs joked. “But this is a real blessing, because now I’ve met my son’s boss and his co-workers.”
Putting the public in touch with officers is an added benefit of the many fundraisers L.A. County Sheriff’s employees participate in for Special Olympians, said Mark McCorkle, a retired officer who works as a liaison for the Law Enforcement Torch Run with wife and fellow officer retiree Gerri.
The first police fundraiser 37 years ago in Kansas raised $600. Today, law enforcement personnel nationwide have raised more than $600 million for Special Olympics.