By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
Some patrons at the Killeen Applebee's were a little perplexed when they walked into the restaurant Tuesday and saw all the law enforcement officers.
"When they first come in and see all of us, sometimes they are a little hesitant," said Killeen police officer Rafael Crispin. "Once they learn why we are here, they relax and it's pretty fun."
About 15 officers from Killeen, Copperas Cove and Harker Heights worked the lunch and dinner shifts to help raise money for the Special Olympics.
Killeen resident Wilhelmina Watson said she was surprised to see the police officers, but applauded the local departments for their charitable efforts.
"At first, I thought they were just here on a lunch break or something," she said. "When I found out what they were doing, I was happy to see people coming together to help their community."
During the Tip-a-Cop event, police officers delivered plates, refilled glasses and talked with customers about how their tips and donations would help athletes in more than 12 counties participate in the Special Olympics Texas Summer Games in May.
"It's great for everyone involved," said Russ Anspach, a Killeen resident who has coached local Special Olympics athletes since 1985. "Both (the officers) and the people coming to eat are giving to a great cause."
The fundraiser was sponsored by the CenTex Law Enforcement Torch Run of Area 12 Special Olympics Texas. Last year's Tip-a-Cop events raised about $14,000.
"Tip-a-Cop is one of the most popular events we do each year," said Sgt. Kevin Keller, spokesman for the Copperas Cove Police Department. "It's great for all the different area police to get together. It's a nice way to break from our regular duties and raise money for an important cause."
Carroll Smith, spokesperson for the Killeen Police Department, said more Tip-a-Cop events are planned, but specific dates have not been finalized.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.