Fidelity of First Responders

Fidelity of First Responders

By Stephen Owsinski

It is always gratifying to witness the selfless nature of our nation’s first responders performing myriad duties with fidelity, some not even in the playbook but unfolding organically, epitomizing why we refer to them as their respective jurisdiction’s Finest.

Here are a few of many…

In a grassroots kind of way, Deputies with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) in South Carolina banded together and got things done for a resident, a lady who was battling cancer and enduring treatments out of town, whose yardwork was requiring attention. This story is warm and has a few layers of comfort.

It turns out an RCSO deputy, who is also fighting cancer affliction, learned of a female resident who needed some angelic aid from saviors in the community. The cancer-embattled deputy did what cops do: devise a plan of resolve, muster resources, and enact a plan. Here is the gist via the RCSD press release:

“One of our deputies who recently beat cancer had discovered a woman dealing with her medical issues had been out of town for a while receiving treatments and wasn’t able to tend to her property this summer. The deputy let our Code Enforcement team know and they decided to provide a little relief and help the woman get her yard up to code.”

(Photo courtesy of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.)

The cast of deputies and others illustrated their efforts on behalf of a citizen hurting from one of life’s most dire circumstances, beautifying her property so she can return home to one less grievance.

Recently in North Little Rock, Arkansas, members of the city’s police force walked now-third-grader Madison Bates to school on her first day back from summer break. You see, a young girl named Madison’s father, Officer Kejuane Bates served with the Vidalia, Louisiana police force. He perished from a line-of-duty-death (LODD) on April 1st, 2020, “due to complications from COVID.”

(Young Madison Bates embraced by her father, Officer Kejuane Bates, before his passing. Photo courtesy of Officer Norman.)

“Madison misses her dad and misses him escorting her to school. [On August 17], in honor of Officer Bates, his blue family escorted Madison to school on her first day!” That was posted by North Little Rock police “Officer Norman,” who has a huge humanitarian footprint in his jurisdiction.

I recently learned that Officer Norman lost his daughter a few years ago. With his angel above, Officer Norman drives forth, puts smiles on many faces, manifests bonds, and consistently finds ways to fill the needs of those in his community.

There are tons of Officer Normans out there…

Last week, the National Police Association published an article about a competition among various police sharpshooters from different agencies, all with the sole purpose of raising funds for cops combatting cancer. In the name of offsetting stress derived from inevitable medical bills mounting throughout various cancer treatments, several afflicted law enforcement officers were gifted whopping checks.

However, God’s peacekeepers perform His will…

On August 18, 2023, Jonathan Daige, a policeman enduring his ongoing cancer battle while also heading the Thin Blue Ride, issued a generous gift (check) to a retired Green Beret named “AJ,” a military man whose cancer challenges recurred. Besides Mr. Daige, there is a cancer-riddled cop in the wing, a man of Blue stepping in as the silver lining in this story…

Excerpted from Daige’s post, “AJ has an amazing network of friends and family that donated through Thin Blue Ride to help him out while going through his treatments” some time ago.

“Upon meeting him for the first time we were able to hand over a $40k check. AJ was more than pleased and extremely grateful for how generous people can be.

“Time passed and AJ’s cancer came back. [Massachusetts State Police Trooper] Dana Oliver [one of the recipients the NPA wrote about] from our last post wanted to give his funds to AJ and I told him not to worry, we would help AJ out as well.

(Thin Blue Ride founder Jonathan Daige gifts check to AJ.)

“I hung out with AJ for a bit yesterday and was getting some updates from him. Then I mentioned that due to Thin Blue Ride’s fundraising and the Hero Down Shootout, we were able to write him a check for $10,000.” A few icons of fidelity among our Finest all wrapped up in one!

Despite all the chronic demands of police work, cops extend themselves beyond the realms of crimefighting and make pals along the way, many of whom are youngsters.

Tampa’s Police Athletic League officers manifesting constructive things for our youth, especially throughout the summer break, took the time to well-wish school-age children as they embarked back to school recently.

Boarding the bus and offering words of encouragement that echo the bonds they share with youngsters, Tampa PAL cops wrote the following sentiments:

“We’re excited to see our after-school program kids stepping into a new school year after a fantastic summer break! Wishing them all the best as they embark on new adventures, make new friends, and continue to learn and grow. Let’s make this year amazing together!”

(Photo courtesy of the Tampa Police Department.)

It’s not only sworn staff from law enforcement agencies going beyond the realms of conventional means.

A civilian employee with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office confronted grim circumstances that seemed to spiral further down as she performed her duties.

In most of Florida’s counties, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), a state agency, provides staff to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect. From the last assessment, six of Florida’s 67 county sheriff’s offices opted for in-house investigations, taking on the sensitivities involving reports of abused/neglected children.

Whether employed by the state or one of the county sheriff’s offices to coordinate cases involving allegations of abuse/neglect, these civilian investigators are ordinarily accompanied by a sworn law enforcement officer when any inkling of wrongdoing is substantiated. With that clarified, we turn to our subsequent Finest exemplifying fidelity…

Child Protection Aide Kimberly Crawford received distinct and deserving praise as the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office “Employee of the Month” in July for a bona fide exemplification of going above and beyond.

(Photo courtesy of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.)

Per a press release from MCSO: “In June 2023, CPS had an investigation involving a mother who came to Florida from out-of-state while 38 weeks pregnant to visit a friend. While visiting, the mother gave birth to a substance-exposed baby and didn’t have a place to stay. The mother appeared to have a mental health crisis and would not seek help. During the investigation, arrangements were made to send the baby to grandparents in another state and the mother signed a temporary custody letter.

“Child Protection Aide Kimberly Crawford went to the hospital and took the baby to the airport in Tampa where she met the baby’s grandfather.” If you ever see a uniformed member of a law enforcement agency whose car has one or more child-protective seats in it, this is why, potential necessities when familial constructs seem derailed.

The rest of the saga got a bit hairy…

“The grandfather and baby missed their flight but found another flight later that evening. After sitting for approximately two hours on the runway waiting for the later flight, the airplane returned to the terminal and the grandfather learned another flight would not go out until the following day at 6 a.m.”

CPA Crawford didn’t let that stew. She “called the grandfather to check on him, learning he was still in Tampa waiting on the flight the following day. He said he was hungry, but nothing was open.”

That’s a ton of professionalism and altruism…and grew from there. “Kimberly left her home to buy him dinner and took it to the airport.

“Kimberly went above and beyond to assist the grandfather with a newborn baby. For her efforts and kindness, she has been named MCSO’s Employee of the Month for July 2023.”

Elevating this heartfelt scene coordinated by CPA Crawford and cohorts investigating possibilities of abused/neglected children, this brand of case management goes in uniformed but unarmed (as seen in her award photo above).

It’s not always cops and robbers. We can effortlessly paper the planet illustrating all the fantastic work police personnel perform; these are just a few demonstrations of fidelity by our nation’s Finest.  

(Photo courtesy of Officer Norman.)

Now, there might be some who think cops should only be combatting crime. I get it. However, in all law enforcement garb are human beings…and they are ever mindful of doing humanitarian deeds on behalf of anyone who needs a pillar of support or whatever generates a happy heart.

After all, as the cop credo goes: “To Protect and Serve.”