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10 Times Cops Were Truly Awesome
The United States recently observed National Police Week (May 13–May 19, 2018). The annual event represents an opportunity to commemorate police officers killed or injured in the line of duty. On May 13, thousands of spectators shuffled into Washington’s National Mall to hold a candlelight vigil. Tributes were paid to hundreds of fallen officers, including 129 killed in 2017. A staggering 21,541 cops have been killed while on duty since 1791.
We occasionally forget that not only are cops risking their lives to keep the public safe but they are also human. While US law enforcement has its share of bad apples, it is fair to say that most of the men and women who join the ranks of the police are there to serve and protect.
The best police officers do not simply chase down felons. They also engage with citizens, forge relationships within the community, and work hard to gain trust and respect. Of course, it is important to hold officers accountable for their actions when something goes wrong. But it is equally important to celebrate those cops who represent their profession with integrity and class.
With this in mind, let us take a look at just a handful of these exemplary human beings. Here are 10 times that cops were truly awesome.
10 Holiday Hams
The cops of Altoona, Wisconsin, have an unusual way of ingratiating themselves with the community. The police department used funds from an anonymous donor to buy 26 hams. According to Police Chief Jesse James—a name that screams “trust me, I’m no bushwhacker”—officers gave the hams to disadvantaged residents for the Christmas holidays.
Officer Tim Peterson pulled over resident Anne Bickle in the run-up to Christmas 2017. Bickle remembers thinking that she was about to receive a not-so-festive ticket for a traffic violation: “I wanted to spend money on Christmas, and money is already tight.”
Instead, she received a ham. Peterson explained the logic behind the PD’s holiday giveaway: “I think anytime the public can see the police in a good light, it’s a good thing.”
The police departments of Eau Claire County also hold an annual “Kids N’ Cops” event. The police conduct fundraising drives and use the proceeds to buy clothes and Christmas presents for needy children.
The kids and cops go to Target and pick out a selection of toys and clothing. The children are then taken to Santa’s grotto before grabbing a bite to eat. In 2015, the program brought a little holiday cheer to over 120 children.
9 The Prom
A number of special needs students in Boynton Beach, Florida, decided to forgo their own prom. It turned out that many of the students, who attended John I. Leonard High School, could not find dates and were struggling to raise the money for tickets.
The Boynton Police Department saved the day. The officers found the funds for the prom, got corsages and boutonnieres, and escorted the youngsters to the event. One local business, Beck’s Towing and Recovery, generously donated $500 to pay for group’s tickets.
“As much as tonight means to these students, it means the world to us to be able to escort them to their prom. We are full of bbpdpride,” stated Boynton Beach PD.
The prom was the brainchild of Sandi and Scott Harris. Sandi works at the students’ high school, while Scott is a retired Boynton PD officer. When the pair asked for volunteers from the department, around 30 cops stepped up to the plate. But as the old proverb goes, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” So a dozen officers were chosen as prom dates.
The department’s Twitter page was filled with videos of uniformed police officers hitting the dance floor. Harris was paired up with Lissa Erreira, a quiet student who struggles with impaired vision and hearing. Harris and Sandi believe that the event was a big success and would like the school to consider hosting similar events in the future.
Boynton cops are renowned for their charitable pursuits. They have supported victims of domestic abuse, Red Nose Day, Career Day, the “Rock One Sock” campaign for missing kids, and Paint with a Hero. Meanwhile, their “Coffee with a Cop” events give members of the public an opportunity to meet local law enforcement face-to-face.
8 Donating Organs
In what can only be described as an incredible act of selflessness, a hero cop from Riverside County, California, donated one of her kidneys to a complete stranger. Deputy Tracey Newton donated the lifesaving organ as part of a kidney donation chain.
A donation chain is set up when a person wants to give a kidney to a family member but is not a suitable match. An altruistic donor—someone who does not know the recipient but is a match—gives his kidney instead. By way of thanks, the nonmatching family member then “pays it forward” by donating his kidney to another stranger. And so the chain continues.
This system incentivizes people to donate even when their organs are not going directly to somebody they know. But the process relies on the generosity of people like Officer Newton to start the ball rolling.
Newton was involved in an eight-person chain (four donors, four recipients). The transplant surgeries took place during National Donate Life Month at the Loma Linda University (LLU) Medical Center. LLU Surgeon Charles Bratton had this to say: “Living donation in general, and this amazing eight-person chain specifically, exemplifies the best of the human spirit and the art of medicine.”
In the United States, around 5,000 people die while waiting for a kidney donation every year. A staggering 100,000 people are currently awaiting kidney donations. Therefore, chain donations are crucial to saving lives.
Deputy Newton performed her good deed shortly after the tragic death of her husband. “When he died, I was just like what is left? What am I here to do?” said the deputy. Newton was inspired by another hero cop: her former colleague Deputy Alicia Lopez.
Lopez donated a kidney to her friend’s three-year-old son, Matthew Castleberry. Doctors had previously diagnosed the young boy with posterior urethral valve disorder, a congenital condition that causes urinary tract obstruction. After years of dialysis and surgeries, Matthew is now leading a normal life.
7 The Wedding Dance
In 2007, David Poling was killed in the line of duty. The brave officer drowned after chasing a suspect into the Ohio River. He left behind his wife and two young daughters, Faith and Mikayla.
Flash forward to Mikayla’s wedding day in 2017, and the boys in blue at the Gallipolis Police Department were on hand to offer their support. Much to Mikayla’s surprise, a steady stream of officers lined up for the father-daughter dance. “They all started coming in one by one. I had no idea. So when the first one walked out in uniform, I was just full of emotions,” Mikayla explained.
The bride and groom are following in David Poling’s footsteps. Husband Dakota Wroten is now a Gallia County Sheriff’s Office deputy. He took heavy inspiration from Mikayla’s father: “It’s always been in my heart to serve people and make a true difference like her dad did. I watched that man impact more people in life and death than you can imagine. I want to make that kind of an impact.” Meanwhile, Mikayla is studying to become an intervention specialist.
A similar surprise was planned for the daughter of slain sheriff’s deputy Kent Mundell Jr. In 2009, the 44-year-old officer was escorting a drunken man from a property in Eatonville, Washington. The crook pulled out a concealed weapon and shot Mundell. The doting father succumbed to his injuries a week later.
In 2015, Kent Mundell’s daughter, Kirsten, got married to her long-term partner. Kirsten reserved a seat for her late father during the wedding ceremony. A picture of Kent, along with his police jacket, was placed front and center.
Officers at the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department in Washington honored their fallen comrade by taking his place in the father-daughter dance. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” said family friend Detective Don Jones. The tender moment even led to the photographer shedding a few tears.
6 Delivering Babies
Sometimes, the police go beyond the call of duty to serve their communities. While delivering babies is not usually part of the job description, desperate times call for desperate measures.
In the early hours of a February 2018 morning, an expectant mother was on her way to the hospital with her relatives. But the baby arrived a little sooner than expected. The woman was in the elevator of her Manhattan apartment building when the baby’s head started to crown.
The mother, now slumped on the elevator floor, could go no farther. After the family phoned 911, Sergeant Mashiel Santos and Officer Yoojin Park arrived at the scene and set to work. The officers reassured the mother and delivered a healthy baby girl. An EMS team eventually turned up and cut the umbilical cord.
Meanwhile, NYPD Officer Doris Vega is getting used to her role as an impromptu midwife. She has now delivered two babies during 17 years on the job. In 2017, Vega and her colleague attended reports of a bleeding woman. What they found was a woman in labor. “I saw a baby, [and] I immediately swooped in and went into action,” said Vega. The cop’s first delivery took place on Halloween.
In 2017, on-duty cops were flagged down by a panic-stricken man in Brooklyn. They soon discovered that the man’s wife was giving birth in the back of an SUV. The officers needed their wits about them, however, as the baby’s umbilical cord was wrapped around its neck.
The team used their training and a little improvisation. They clamped the cord using one of the officer’s shoelaces before cutting it with a knife. After the baby was successfully delivered, the officers breathed a sigh of relief.
5 A Christmas (Miracle) Car
An elderly couple from Croydon, London, had their car stolen in 2017. The callous thief took the pensioners’ Austin Metro from outside their home. Although the cops did find the vehicle, it was so badly damaged that the authorities were left with no choice but to crush it. The owners were devastated. The lack of car meant that Linda and Michael Gibbs would struggle to attend hospital appointments or buy groceries.
Seeing as the couple lacked the finances to buy a new car, the police started a fundraiser. The cops were planning to use the proceeds to buy the senior citizens a Vauxhall Corsa. However, after learning of the couple’s plight, a local dealership kindly donated the vehicle.
“Our hearts went out to Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs when we saw how upset they were to lose their car. It was a real lifeline to them. We just had to do something to help them,” explained Detective Constable Helen Cooper.
On Christmas Day, officers with the Metropolitan Police Service drove the Corsa to the Gibbses’ residence. The cops also gave the husband and wife £2,300 to cover the cost of the car’s insurance and MOT vehicle inspection check.
More good news was to come. The Met discovered forensic evidence that led to the car thief’s arrest. Fabion Wilfred pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and was sentenced in January 2018.
4 Rescuing Helpless Animals
When the police are not donating their own organs or delivering babies, they occasionally like to rescue small animals.
In 2018 alone, the cops have rescued a menagerie of creatures. Deputies with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department rescued a pony from a busy highway. Officers in Quincy, Massachusetts, rescued five baby raccoons from a trash can. Colorado cops freed an owl that had gotten into a fight with a soccer net. NYPD police officers saved two dogs from a searing-hot vehicle before administering oxygen and transporting them to a local animal hospital.
The Farmington PD fetched a pet iguana from a tree in New Mexico. Cops from Watervliet, New York, delivered a wounded deer to a local vet. And a Tampa PD officer scooped up a bunch of dopey ducklings that had fallen into a storm drain.
In one of the most extraordinary cases of 2018, a New Jersey cop performed a C-section on a dead deer. The creature was hit by a vehicle and killed. When Officer Jim Vernon saw the corpse’s insides writhing, he realized that the deer’s unborn baby was still alive. He performed a cesarian and handed the fawn over to animal control. Later that day, Vernon (aka Officer Dolittle) was dispatched to deal with an escaped horse.
3 The Bearers Of Food
For most, it is difficult to imagine phoning the police for food. But a single mother from New Jersey was so impoverished that she had no other choice. Her cupboards were empty, and her children were starving. The mother of four was waiting for food stamps and had no other means of getting food. She did not have transportation, and her mobile connection had been turned off.
So a dispatcher from Camden County, Tondaleya Bagby, sent an officer to assess the family’s situation. As a stopgap measure, Officer David Hinton took the family to McDonald’s and bought the famished kids a round of Happy Meals. A group of cops, including Bagby and her police sergeant mother, paid for the woman’s groceries and delivered them after work. The team also asked social services to reach out to the young mother and her children.
Bagby’s mom, Tracy Seigel, spoke of her daughter’s extraordinary compassion: “She doesn’t have a lot of money, but she found a way. It’s not unusual for her, though.” The Camden County Freeholders honored Bagby and the officers for helping the family in their hour of need.
A Boynton Beach police officer performed a similar deed for an elderly woman. The 91-year-old Floridian was conned by two crooks at a local store. They used “distraction theft” techniques to steal the frail woman’s purse and her food stamps.
Thankfully, Officer Janelle Jumelles arrived on scene. Jumelles paid for the woman’s groceries, gave her a gift card, and arranged for the cancellation of her stolen credit cards.
2 Saving Abused Children
In 2015, veteran cop Jody Thompson responded to a child abuse call in Poteau, Oklahoma. What he found was horrifying. The eight-year-old victim, John, was covered with bruises and abrasions. The severely malnourished youngster had been left in a trash can filled with ice-cold water.
After investigators snapped photos of the boy’s injuries, Thompson took John to the hospital and remained at his bedside. “I knew I couldn’t let him out of my sight,” Thompson recalled.
Within a matter of days, Thompson had fostered John and taken him home. The officer, who already had two biological sons, then found out that his wife was pregnant again. But there was more to come.
Seven months later, he received a surprise call from the Department of Human Services. They explained that John’s biological mother had given birth in prison. Without a moment’s hesitation, Jody agreed to adopt the baby girl, Paizley. All of a sudden, the Thompson family had ballooned from two children to five.
In 2017, Jody received a state commendation for his kindness. Police Chief Stephen Fruen expressed nothing but praise for his colleague: “It’s men like you that make me proud of our law enforcement brothers and sisters. You are very deserving of this commendation. I am proud to serve with you.”
1 Batting Away Crime
We all know that Chicago has some rather significant issues with gun crime, violence, and general criminality. Well, Englewood Police believe they have a secret weapon that may go some way to solving the community’s crime epidemic: baseball.
The cops have set up the Englewood Police Youth Baseball League in the hopes of keeping young kids off the streets. The sport teaches children the value of teamwork and helps build trust between the local PD and future generations. The program’s expenses are covered by Get IN Chicago, a private organization that aims to curtail juvenile violence across the Windy City.
“The baseball league is an excellent opportunity both for our young people to have productive activities over the summer and to create a real engagement between the people and police in Englewood,” stated Get IN Chicago’s executive director, Dr. Toni Irving.
According to Marco Johnson, president of the Chicago Police Athletic League, a lack of trust in the police could lead to youths that “fall to the gangs and street violence.” On this basis, the authorities hope that the youth baseball team will foster mutual respect and cooperation. District Commander Larry Watson reinforced Johnson’s position: “When you’re fishing, you’re not throwing a rock through a window.”
Since the league’s founding in 2015, hundreds of youngsters have been introduced to the game. A number of retired and active duty cops have agreed to coach and mentor the youth baseball teams each season. The teams play over the summer period, meeting once a week in Hamilton Park. The Englewood cops have also organized other youth clubs for bowling, golf, swimming, and soccer.