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Columns : Editorial

Acts of Kindness

Whether it's consoling distraught people, providing assistance for the poor, or cheering up a lonely child, America's officers do much more than enforce the law.

May 02, 2016  |  by - Also by this author

Photo: Kelly Bracken
Photo: Kelly Bracken

The last two years have been terribly grim for American law enforcement. Officers have been killed, officers have been injured, officers have been prosecuted, officers have been sued, and all officers nationwide have been vilified.

But in this month when we honor fallen officers for their sacrifices, it's important to remember the good works law enforcement officers do every day, not just in keeping the public safe, which is the "protect" part of the "To Protect and To Serve" motto, but the kindness and mercy, too. Which is the "serve" part of that motto.

On PoliceMag.com, we have keyword tags that help people search for different types of stories on the site. So as the staff here is posting stories on the Website, we have to decide what keywords to assign them. One of our most used keywords is "Officer Kindness."

Here's a quick look at some of the stories that we posted under that Officer Kindness keyword tag last month.

  • Huntington Beach, CA—Two officers came across a woman and her 11-year-old daughter living in a car. While the partner spoke with the mother about adult things like helping the family find housing, the other officer distracted the daughter by teaching her how to play hopscotch. This officer went the extra mile to brighten a poor girl's day with what has come to be known as "copscotch."
  • Hot Springs Village, AR—A righteously peeved mother posted a note on Facebook when no one decided to come to the birthday party that she had planned for her 10-year-old son. Troopers from the Arkansas State Police saw that Facebook item and decided to stage their own party for the boy. They went to the boy's home with gifts and a cake. They played basketball with him and let him wear a trooper's hat. Then they left the boy and his mother with big smiles on their faces.
  • New York City—An NYPD officer literally talked a suicidal woman off of a 10th floor ledge. She engaged the woman for more than 10 minutes talking about the beauty of the flowers in Central Park while an Emergency Services Unit team got into position to pull the potential suicide back into the building. She will live to see those flowers bloom again.
  • Fort Worth, TX—A 5-year-old boy named Joshua Garcia drowned in a swimming pool. The first officer on the scene did everything he could to revive Joshua. But he was gone. That officer noticed that Joshua was wearing a Spider-Man shirt and Spider-Man shoes when he died. And he later learned that Spider-Man was the boy's hero. So with the family's blessing, the officer attended the boy's funeral in full Spider-Man costume because he wanted the boy to have his hero present at the ceremony.
  • Hayden, ID—A Kootenai County Sheriff's Deputy pulled over a woman for speeding. He probably had every intention of issuing the woman a ticket, but when the deputy asked the woman where she was heading, he learned that she was on the way to the oncologist with her cancer-stricken mother. The deputy ended up praying with the woman and her mother on the side of the road. After the prayer he sent them on their way without a citation. He told KREM TV, "I think they needed some love and we all do."
  • Conyers, GA—After Conyers officers answered a call and discovered that a family did not have a crib for a 3-month-old baby, they went back out on patrol and spotted a family putting unwanted furniture on their lawn in preparation for a yard sale. The officers stopped to ask if the family might be selling a crib. They weren't selling a crib, but they had one that had never been used in their attic. The woman had lost her baby during labor three years earlier. Until that day she couldn't part with the crib in the attic. But hearing the story of the family that needed the crib, she gave the crib and mattress to the officers, who took it where it was needed.

These are just some of the wonderful acts of kindness that officers performed in service to their communities last month. They are the ones that were made public. I have no doubt that many other officers nationwide were just as generous and caring. But their deeds went unsung. Which is probably the way these humble men and women who protect and serve prefer it.


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