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It is no secret that America has a storied history with racial tension. Much of that racial tension has come to fruition throughout the course of America’s history in many different ways. Most recently, this tension has come in the form of police brutality. Through the power of modern technology and social media, eyewitnesses have been able to capture horrifying abuses of power by local law enforcement and share it around the world in mere seconds. While this new movement has been incredibly important in stopping some of the atrocities witnessed, it has also had an adverse effect on law enforcement. Police officers now have something of a bad reputation (their reputation beforehand wasn’t exactly stellar, either).

However, we at the Opes Group feel that this image is a bit unfair. There are thousands of police officers throughout this country dedicated to upholding the law and protecting its citizens. Why should a few bad apples ruin the reputation of the whole group? The role of the police officer has become synonymous with that of arresting officer but we forget that many law enforcement agencies focus on preventing prime rather than allowing it to happen and then tracking down the bad guy. Many towns in fact have a ‘neighborhood cop’ system for the express purpose of maintaining social order by developing relationships with locals and in fact being a source of help. The good old days are not entirely gone. Below are some examples of police officers today who still seek to be a beacon of light for their communities.

The Engagement Ring

This past September, after her car got a flat tire, New Jersey resident, Kimberly Garcia, aimed to fix the problem herself. Unfortunately, while changing the tire, she had lost her diamond engagement ring. Naturally, Garcia was upset, and so she filed a police report. Afterwards, she and a group of police officers conducted a thorough search of the highway in order to find the ring, but unfortunately, after hours of searching, they came up empty-handed. Garcia and the patrol gave up and chalked it up as a lost cause. However, one officer, Jon Henderson, was determined to find the ring. During his free time, Officer Henderson returned to the highway where she’d lost the ring and scoured the location by himself. Due to his determination and kind heart, eventually, he found the ring and returned it to Ms. Garcia.

The Pokemon Card Collection

In May of 2016, young Bryce Angelone had one of the worst days of his life. While casually relaxing on his porch with his impressive collection of Pokemon trading cards, a group of boys came up to Bryce and stole his cards directly from him. He was devastated. His mother called the police and Officer James Grotenrath, the responding officer, decided that if they could not help Bryce by getting his cards back there must be some other way to help. After his shift, Grotenrath went home, dug up his personal collection of Pokemon cards and gave them to Bryce. “I grew up with Pokemon, I loved Pokemon as a kid and I would be heartbroken too if my cards were taken from me,” stated Grotenrath.

The Iron Man Suit

Every child’s dream is to meet his or her favorite superhero. Cole St. Clair, a terminally ill 7-year-old boy in Florida wanted to meet Marvel Comic Book Hero Iron Man. No, Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t able to fly to the rescue but police officer Damon Cole did.  St. Clair’s story touched this officer’s heart so much that although he lives in Texas, Officer Cole purchased a full-body, adult-sized Iron Man outfit, arranged air travel (sponsored by Southwest Airlines) and visited the young boy at his home in March of 2016. The astonished and overwhelmed little boy said this was a memory he would never forget. Cole St.Clair died the following day but this officer gave him and his family precious moments together that his family will always cherish.

These are only three examples of the tremendous time, effort and care that police officers truly put into their work sometimes even off the clock. They are not as rare as you may think. I didn’t even have a chance to laud Michigan Public Safety Officer Ben Hall who in 2014 could have ticketed a mother for not having a car seat for her child but instead went to Walmart with her and purchased a car seat with his own money. His focus was on finding a solution and when he spoke to the mother he understood that a ticket would not ultimately solve the problem.  

The media today promotes the negativity surrounding local law enforcement, and yes, the public needs to be protected from these outliers, but there are two sides to every story, and the police have their fair share of good ones.

The next time you see a police officer, don’t assume the worst. Instead think about the part you can play in working together to make us all safer and building a less divisive society.