While the world focuses on the problems within police departments and sheds light on the worst of the worst, good cops are outraged at the behavior of their colleagues. They are in the force for the right reasons and their sole intent is protecting us from danger. Yet overnight, police officers have gone from heroes to victims of hatred and violence.
It’s time to pause and step back from the fray. It’s time to consider what the police do for us when no one is watching, sometimes right in our own back yards.
Just last week in Richmond, an officer getting an oil change demonstrated that beneath his bulletproof vest, he had a heart of gold. As Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Drew Stoner sat in the waiting area, he overhead a conversation between a 92-year-old lady, Mary Summers, and a mechanic, Omar Oregueda. Oregueda explained that even though Summers had brought her car in to repair one damaged tire, all four tires were in bad shape and needed to be replaced immediately. The cost: $600. Summers replied that she couldn’t afford that amount and would have to replace only the damaged tire.
As Stoner listened, he could not accept the idea of the woman driving a vehicle on bald tires. After a few minutes of contemplation, he quietly approached the desk and paid the entire bill for Summers, then just as quietly walked out. Oregueda had the distinct pleasure of telling Summers that her bill had been paid and she would be receiving four new tires. Her initial shock, followed by inexplicable gratitude, warmed the hearts of the employees and spurred a KHOU news team to track down Stoner and bring him together with Summers for a proper thank you. The entire story, including their heartwarming meeting, can be found here.
Just a little further out in Austin, one year ago this week, another officer performed an act of kindness of a different sort. He noticed a 9-year-old boy wandering a parking lot and checked on him. The boy explained that he was out buying snacks for himself and his brother. Officer James Riley introduced himself and accompanied the boy home, where his little brother was waiting for him. In checking to make sure the boys were safe and that mom would be home from work soon, Riley noticed a lack of food in the home. Upon calling mom, he discovered that the family had recently lost its food stamp benefits.
With no further prompting, Riley took off to the store and purchased enough food to last the family through the week. He returned bearing kid-friendly favorites and basic staples. A few days later, he followed up with the family and was assured that his act of generosity had meant the world to them and helped them get through a tough time.
And just a little farther afield, just before Covid relegated us all to our homes, Trooper Chris Hanover stopped to aid Oklahoma driver Andrea Derksen, who had a tire blowout. When Hanover stopped to help her change her tire, he noticed that the spare was not much better than the tire. So he drove Derksen to a tire store and purchased two new tires for her car.
When Derksen posted her story on social media, she was flooded with comments from others who shared stories about heroic acts they personally experienced through their interactions with police officers.
It seems that there are many stories just like these that we will never hear about, but one message is clear: For every bad cop out there, there’s plenty more good cops. They need our reassurances now more than ever that we appreciate what they do for us.
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