By Michael Beshears, assistant professor of criminal justice at American Military University
Recent high-profile events in Baltimore and Ferguson have caused public outcry regarding questionable ethical and moral practices by police officers. These stories have negatively affected the relationships police have in some of the communities they serve. While it is important that these wrong-doings are acknowledged and punished, such incidents should not detract from all the good police officers do each and every day for the citizens in their communities.
The vast majority of officers join the force and remain dedicated to the mission of protecting and serving. Officers believe strongly in what they do and conduct themselves in a professional manner and with the utmost integrity each and every day.
Amid the media frenzy of recent events, there are many people speaking out in support of police officers and of the policing profession. For example, a 22-year-old African-American man made a video that went viral discussing his positive encounter with a white police officer in South Carolina. “People need to understand that not all officers are crooked,” Will Stack said in the video. “Not all officers are racist, bad people. And not all people who get shot or tased or arrested by officers are innocent victims.”
To ensure that the good deeds of officers do not go unnoticed and in honor of National Police Week, here are just a few stories of officers who go above and beyond the call of duty for the citizens of the communities they serve:
- Officer Gaetano Acerra reached out to a 13-year-old boy in Sumter, South Carolina who told him that he wanted to run away from home. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the boy did not have a bed so Acerra delivered donated gifts to the teen including a bed, TV, and Wii.
- Officer Robert Campbell, found a little girl sleeping inside a house his SWAT team raided in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.In order to calm her fears and comfort her, he stayed with her. When she asked him to play a game of patty cake, he obliged.
- In Griffin, Georgia, Joe Hudson risked his life to rescue a 3 year old from a burning home.
There are numerous other stories of officers reaching out to people within their community. The list is extensive, but here are a few such actions:
- Jack Mook, a Pittsburgh police detective, took in two abused foster kids whom he later adopted.
- A Bethel Park, Pennsylvania police officer gave 8-year-old Joey Fabus an officer’s funeral.
- Cobb County, Florida officer helped the victim of a traffic accident make his 8-year-old son’s basketball game.
- Aubrey Gregory helped woman struggling to complete a 10K race in Kentucky by staying with her until the end.
- Officer Mike Hill of the Louisiana Police Department helped an autistic boy achieve his dream by making him a part of the police department.
- Officer J.D. Boyd of Raleigh, North Carolina, takes time out to interact and play with kids.
- In Osceola, Florida, the sheriff’s office went out of its way to lift the spirits of an autistic boy for his birthday.
- Greg Pigeon of Rockland, Massachusetts picked up a $400 meal tab for 22 grieving friends and family members of a 17-year-old boy who died in a car crash.
- John Shipman, a police officer out of Jonesboro, Arkansas, offered a ride to a young college student he saw walking along the road in 19 degree weather. He discovered he had no car and walked to work every day. The next day he stopped by the boy’s apartment and gave him $20 for cab rides and launched an Internet campaign raising more than $5,000 for a car for the young man.
These stories are not unique. There are numerous other stories that could be shared about officers who go above and beyond the call of duty.
In honor of National Police Week, be sure to thank an officer for all that they do. Not only do they risk their lives each and every day to help protect and serve, but many officers do not hesitate to lend a helping hand to citizens in their communities.
About the Author: Michael L. Beshears has two B.S. degrees, one in psychology and another in criminal justice from Drury University. He also has two graduate degrees, a M.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a M.A. in health services management from Webster University. He also obtained a PhD from Northcentral University. Mike is a retired senior noncommissioned Officer in the U.S. Army. His 22-year career includes work with the Special Forces, as well as assisting other agencies in their performance of criminal investigations. He has an extensive background in emergency medicine and intensive care medical treatment, as a Special Forces medic, emergency medical technician and licensed practical nurse. Mike is currently an assistant Professor of criminal justice at American Military University & American Public University and is full-time faculty in the School of Security and Global Studies. You can contact him at Michael.beshears(at)mycampus.apus.edu.