Sunday, August 26, 2001

Arresting man servin' soda


Pops-for-Cops welcome treats to on-duty police

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD — Robert G. Kramer, an anything-but-ordinary citizen, “responds” to police calls on his pearl-blue Honda Goldwing motorcycle, performing random acts of kindness and leaving a trail of bemused police officers.

        “At first, I thought he was an escapee from (an insane asylum),” joked Officer Dennis Valentini, remembering a hot summer day when Mr. Kramer approached him in Founders Park and offered a cold soft drink. “Then he told me who he was, and I recognized the name right away. All the guys in the squad room had been talking about him.”

[photo] Fairfield resident Robert G. Kramer offers Officer Dennis Valentini a bottle of water and bag of snacks during an recent excursion.
(Dick Swaim photo)
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        Mr. Kramer has become “the pops-for-cops guy” in the city where he has lived for 17 years. A successful businessman who met his goal of retiring at age 50 a year and a half ago, Mr. Kramer has used his free time to become more active in community affairs. After graduating from the 10-week Fairfield Citizen Police Academy in May, he gained more respect for officers — and wanted to show it.

        He thought about officers who may be stuck for hours in the hot sun, directing traffic around car wrecks or other hazards — and “they can't even go get a cold drink if they want one,” he said.

        So this avid motorcyclist realized he could use his Goldwing as a delivery vehicle — and “Pops for Cops” was born in July. To date, he has delivered refreshments to officers at about 70 different scenes. The beverages are courtesy of Jim Nabors, a local Pepsi-Cola distributor; Mr. Kramer pays out of his own pocket for bags of snacks.

        “At first, people didn't know what to think,” said Lt. Ken Colburn, who became acquainted with Mr. Kramer through the citizen academy program. “But now, just about everybody on the department knows him — and once they meet Bob, they don't forget him. Nobody forgets Bob Kramer. As I told him, he's crazy — in a good way.”

        Armed with a quirky sense of humor, Mr. Kramer loves talking in cop lingo. “I pull up to a guy at 3 in the morning and say, "Hi, I'm the pops-for-cops guy. Would you like a cold drink?' — and I think they're ready to call in a 10-79 on their radio — that's the signal for mental cases,” he says.

        Mr. Kramer says he has learned to “use discretion” (another cop term) in deciding when and where to “respond.” He avoids situations that might be dangerous for him or officers and hangs back if officers seem extremely busy.

        He feels most welcome at scenes where officers must stay for long periods.

        After a tree fell over for no apparent reason — “a spontaneous tree failure,” as Mr. Kramer called it — officers spent about five hours directing traffic at Pleasant and Walter avenues.

        “The temperature was in the mid-90s, and the discomfort index was hellacious,” Mr. Kramer said. “I gave out so many pops, my cooler was empty — and I told them I had to go home and "reload.'”

        Officer Craig Singleton, 26, said that in his two years as a police officer, “I've never had somebody do something nice for me like that — never even had anyone drive up and say, "Thanks.' But Bob riding around on his Goldwing, passing out pops and (snacks), that's pretty cool.”

        Mr. Kramer says the program makes him feel good — and gives him an excuse to tell his wife why he's riding his motorcycle at all hours of the night.

        “In the fall, I'm gonna start "caffeine for cops' — hot chocolate and coffee,” he said. “I'm having so much fun, I don't think I'll ever quit.”

       



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