Bennington officers will serve food for good cause

BENNINGTON — "You guys ready to order lunch?" Paul Doucette said, smiling as he approached the table.

"Breakfast," his customer, Mark Santelli, replied. "Okay, breakfast," Doucette said. "Let me go get my little book."

"So, what can I get you today?"

"Scrambled eggs and sausage, and an all-meat omelette," Santelli replied.

"You want any cheese on that?" Doucette asked. "Sure," Santelli said. "Toast?" "Sourdough."

And with that, Bennington's police chief had taken his first order at the Sunny Side Diner.

"I was nervous. I didn't know I'd be so nervous," Doucette said. He was eager to get it right, because "the larger tip we get, the more bicycle helmets we can buy."

Doucette, Lt. David Dutcher and Patrol Officer Steve Sleasman were at the diner Wednesday morning to practice for this Saturday, when a dozen or so members of the Bennington Police Association will be trading their ticket books for guest books. Officers and police department staff will be waiting on tables for charity.

They'll be at the diner, located at 241 Main St., from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Half of the profits made Saturday will go to the police association's cause. They hope to use the proceeds to buy over 300 bike helmets for a bicycle rodeo they're planning this spring.

Doucette said the idea grew from talks he had with diner owner Susan Cerreta. He and Dutcher were eating lunch and she suggested having a fundraiser there.

From that came the tagline: To protect and "serve."

Doucette said he hopes attendees will have the opportunity to meet and talk with local law enforcement officers, maybe talk about what's going on in their own neighborhoods.

"We're regular people," Doucette said. "We're part of the community and want to support the community."

On Wednesday, Doucette was wearing an apron that he got at the FBI Academy in 2005 over his uniform.

Sleasman, the president of the BPA, said the membership is enthusiastic about the idea. "We all loved it, and here we are."

Sleasman, like Dutcher and the chief, admitted that he has never worked as a waiter. "I think it's going to be a challenge. I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Waitress Samantha Connor said she's been showing the ropes to Doucette, who's a regular customer. "He'll be good," she said. "I think there'll be a lot of laughs."

David LaChance contributed reporting to this story. 
Ed Damon can be reached at, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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