Years ago I learned of one unsung hero at the Dallas Police Department. He tried not to let anyone know what he did, but word spread quickly. The previous year, this particular cop responded to a burglary call just days before Christmas in the roughest, most indigent part of the city. Echoing cruelty of the fictional Mr. Grinch, a real thief had stolen all the kids’ Christmas presents. The distraught mother could hardly contain her emotion.
“What are the names and the ages of the kids?” asked the police officer as he jotted them down in his notebook. He had gotten all the data on what exactly was stolen and the estimated cost, but he didn’t need the names and ages of the children for the report! No, he had made up his mind to do something else with that information.
The next day, this anonymous police officer with no great salary, had enough goodness in his heart to buy back what another had stolen. Imagine the overwhelming feeling of gratitude the burglary victims felt when the now off-duty police officer returned to the scene of the crime to replace what he hadn’t taken. Lives were blessed and hearts rejoiced.
Fast forward to earlier this month when I was with over 100 cops as we were paired up with underprivileged children for the annual “Shop With a Cop” event in Salt Lake City. A convoy of police cars ran with lights-and-sirens to Kmart in several miles away where we helped purchase Christmas gifts for these kids. A six-year-old girl named Sophia drove in my cop car and helped me activate the different sirens.
With the help of the Salt Lake Police Association and various sponsors, I helped Sophia pick out $150 worth of toys and clothes. She was shy, gracious, and was quick to say, “thank you.”
Santa Claus came by helicopter to give his reindeer some rest before the big day.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience. On a personal note, this meant a lot more to me than simple giving and working without being paid.
Many years ago after waking from a disturbing nightmare that shook me to the very core, I earnestly prayed for help to relieve the things that I knew… that I wished I had not known.
Too often police officers know the most disturbing and unfortunate things that happen to children that are victims of abuse and violence. My nightmare was no different. I awoke in tears, and I started to pray harder than I ever prayed in my life for the pain to go away.
I made a promise that day that if God would take away my pain and my nightmares that I would serve others better. Specifically, the thought that came to my mind that tearful morning was Cops for Christmas, with an emphasis of Christ in Christmas.
Police officers know better than Santa who has been naughty or nice. Police officers know—and often meet—victims and those who struggle and truly need help.
Helping little Sophia and seeing my brothers and sisters in blue unselfishly helping so many other children, was a reminder that the knowledge of bad things does not necessarily disappear in this line of work, but the pain can soften when we help bless and serve lives, especially little children.