Can cops cook? Find out on Saturday

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BRATTLEBORO

Ryan Washburn, a detective with the Brattleboro Police Department, won't spill the beans on his recipe for the 3rd annual "Can Cops Cook?"

The event, however, isn't just a cooking competition. All the proceeds go to Windham County Safe Place Child Advocacy Center. Safe Place is a nonprofit agency aimed at reducing the traumatic effects of investigations of physical and sexual child abuse and adult sexual abuse on victims. The organization works closely with the Brattleboro Police Department.

On Saturday, from 5 to 7 p.m., community members are welcomed to the American Legion. Adults pay $10, children under 12 get in for $5, and children younger than 3-years-old get in for free. Once inside, people will receive three tickets and can sample 10 to 15 different dishes, all cooked by local cops. Then they will be asked to use the three tickets to vote on their favorite recipes.

"The idea [for Can Cops Cook?] came from a previous Safe Place employee, Patrina

Lingard," Executive Director Alyssa Todd said. "Patrina had worked in Georgia prior to moving to Vermont, and while there she had worked on a similar event as part of an initiative to improve community relationships with law enforcement. We thought it was a fun idea as a fundraiser, and that it could foster great community relationships here as well."

The event is always fun and joyous, Washburn said. People don't always get to see police officers having fun and joking. "People don't think police make jokes," Washburn said. "People always think cops are robots."

At Can Cops Cook?, the atmosphere is hardly robotic. There's a lot of teasing. Washburn frequently finds himself on the receiving end of the jokes about being this year's underdog. While he's come close to winning and has placed twice, Washburn often finds himself in second or third place. In 2015, the first year of the competition, he cooked fruit pizzas. He used sugar cookies with homemade cream cheese frosting and added kiwi, blueberries and strawberries. "The presentation was amazing," he said. The second year he made brownie cheesecake bites.

Washburn said he never tells his coworkers what he intends on making. He believes that if he shares his recipe other police officers might steal it. "I just can't trust them," he said.

The other police officers joke that Washburn's wife or mother must have made his food. "They're just jealous," he said.

Washburn said whenever he cooks for the competition it's a mess because he's cooking 100 different samples. "My wife and mother don't want any part of the disaster," he said.

But aside from all the fun and antics between the competing cops, Washburn said, the most important part of the event is supporting Safe Place.

"We want to raise as much money as possible for this," Washburn said. "It's a good part of the community."

Harmony Birch can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext.153. Or you can follow her @birchharmony.

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