Coffee, conversation, treats — even kids’ bike helmets — served up at Newport Beach PD Mobile Café

Newport Beach Police Officer Zack Varela hands out bike helmets and tote bags.
Newport Beach Police Officer Zack Varela hands out bike helmets and tote bags during the NBPD Mobile Café held Friday at Westcliff Plaza.
(Susan Hoffman)

In hopes of fostering greater bonds with the community at large, the Newport Beach Police Department on Friday hosted its monthly Mobile Café at Westcliff Plaza on Friday morning, serving residents coffee and doughnuts, with a generous side of conversation.

For the kids, free bike helmets were provided on a first come, first serve basis.

The event, which also receives support from the Irvine Co., cultivates approachability between officers and the citizens they serve. The Newport Beach version, which launched in July, was suggested by Sgt. Steve Oberon after he transferred from the Pasadena Police Department where a similar outreach program met with success.


K-9 handler Joe De Julio and dog, Goose, chat with Citizen Police Academy graduate Susan Munthe.
Newport Beach Police Department K-9 handler Joe De Julio and dog, Goose, chat with Newport Beach resident Susan Munthe, who recently finished the Citizen Police Academy and came out to talk about volunteering during the Mobile Café Friday at Westcliff Plaza.
(Susan Hoffman)

“The Mobile Café gives everyone the opportunity to communicate and engage with police in an open and more relaxed environment,” said Oberon. “The community can get to know the Newport Beach police on a personal level rather than just a professional level.”

The proliferation of e-bikes and ongoing issues of loud vehicle exhaust and speeding have been among some of the topics raised during the conversations between police officers and the public over the past few months, Oberon said. People also ask the officers about residential burglaries and bike thefts.

“So far the attendance has grown from 50 to 75 during the first events to now ranging between 75 and 100,” Oberon said Friday. “Many end up signing up for Citizen Police Academy as a result of the event.”

Newport Beach Police Department officers who worked to make the Mobile Café a success.
The Newport Beach Police Department group of officers who worked to make the Mobile Café a successful community event held Friday at Westcliff Plaza. Sgt. Steve Oberon stands sixth from the right in the back row, standing under the “E.”
(Susan Hoffman)

The academy is designed to give participants a deeper understanding of how the police department is organized and the services it provides.

Newport Beach resident Dotty McDonald, a graduate of the Citizen Police Academy who went on to become a police department volunteer, showed up Friday to lend a hand.

“In smaller communities police can walk the beat and get to know residents, but it’s impossible to do here being so spread out,” said McDonald. “This was Steve’s idea so people could come up to them and discuss anything they want to and ask questions.”

Jeni Sorensen, who attended Friday’s Mobile Café, asked Lt. Eric Little about electric bike traffic and safety.

“I live between Newport Harbor High School and Ensign Intermediate School and a lot of e-bikes go in my neighborhood and I’ve come very close to colliding a few times pulling out of my driveway,” said Sorensen. “They fly by and don’t stop at the stop signs and also ride on the sidewalk.”

Little acknowledged the city has seen a proliferation of e-bikes in a short period of time. “It’s a police and parenting issue, with kids learning the proper way to operate.”

Little explained that each year the NBPD conducts a bike safety educational course at Ensign School.

Newport Beach residents attend the Newport Beach Police Department Mobile Café.
Newport Beach residents came out Friday for free coffee, doughnuts, kids’ bike helmets and conversation during the Newport Beach Police Department Mobile Café held at Westcliff Plaza Newport Beach.
(Susan Hoffman)

A Lido Island resident who asked not to be identified in print, suggested a traffic signal is needed on the busy Via Lido between the Via Lido Plaza and Lido Village shopping across the street.

“There’s a flashing light at the crosswalk, but people don’t know how to use it,” the woman complained. ”It’s constant [pedestrians] crossing especially during the summer traffic and people cross without the flashing light because they don’t press the button.”

To learn more about the Mobile Café readers can email Sgt. Oberon at

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