Friday, December 9, 2011

Police give back

Another great article from our December Informant newsletter explaining the generosity of a few KCPD members:

The small acts of kindness police do every day rarely make headlines: buying a meal for a hungry child, finding homes for stray animals, helping someone with home repair.

But as the season of giving approaches, it’s worth pointing out just a few stories of the generosity of KCPD members.

The gift of sight
Officer Shawnie Nix with the Police Athletic League (PAL) said she “tries to take care of my kids.” PAL provides after-school athletic and academic opportunities for at-risk children and teenagers in the urban core. Officer Nix coaches the boxing program. Her supervisor, Sergeant Brad Deichler, said she has a huge heart, buying the girls she coaches Christmas gifts, meals and taking them to Chiefs and Royals games – all out of her own pocket.

Officer Nix noticed that 13-year-old Dakota Masquat was having trouble seeing the exercises written on the board in the gym. Dakota boxes at PAL four nights a week, and Officer Nix asked her if she had trouble seeing at school, too. The girl admitted she couldn’t see the board well there, either. But Officer Nix knew there was little chance Dakota would get the vision care she needed because she lives with her grandmother, who is disabled, lives on a restricted income and has no form of transportation.

So Officer Nix took it upon herself to find a way to get Dakota glasses. She did some research and found the One Sight organization was going to be in town in November. The non-profit provides vision care and glasses to those who can’t afford it. They brought a mobile unit to Union Station, so on her day off, Nov. 9, Officer Nix picked up Dakota and took her to it. Dakota said she learned one eye had 20/40 vision, and the other 20/70. While she had glasses made to her specifications, she got to visit the exhibits at Union Station. She said she sees much better now and wears her glasses all the time in class.

When asked why she went to all the work for Dakota, Officer Nix said, “Because she needed it.”

Shattered glass
Detective Alane Booth of the Homicide Unit was doing her twice-yearly assignment in patrol with Officer Michael Feagans in Center Zone when they responded to a disturbance between neighbors Nov. 26. One couple had taken in a hungry dog and paid adoption fees to the city animal shelter, but teens down the street insisted the dog was theirs, and came threatening the couple. They called police and returned the dog to the teenagers. But the teens came back and threw a pick-axe in the windshield of the couple’s only vehicle, mad that they’d called police.

This made Booth and Feagans angry.

“They did nothing to bring this property damage on themselves – no drama or bad decision-making,” Detective Booth said. “I could just see their desire to help this poor dog, and all they got was backlash and retaliation.”

As they were taking the report, the officers learned the wife had epilepsy and possibly breast cancer and was scheduled for a mastectomy soon. Without a car, she couldn’t make it to her doctor’s appointments. Detective Booth told her she would do what she could to get their windshield replaced.

She searched charities online and eventually got in touch with a local television reporter, asking if he knew anyone who could help. He connected her with the Cars 4 Christmas organization, which connected her with someone who would go to the couple’s home and replace the windshield for free. Their windshield was replaced Dec. 1 at no cost.

But Detective Booth wanted to ensure the dog was taken care of, too. She notified Chain of Hope, an organization that works to end animal abuse and neglect in the inner city, to keep tabs on the dog’s welfare.

Above and beyond all year long
Three separate people notified the Media Unit of Crime Scene Technician Supervisor Melanie Bartch’s quiet, year-round generosity. On her own, she has adopted a homeless camp and collects and delivers items there on a monthly basis, including coats, pillows, socks, long underwear, hats, gloves, canned goods, bottled water, hand warmers and books.

When her son was serving in the military overseas, she gathered supplies to send not just to him but to his entire unit. When she heard about a soldier in the unit who had not received any mail since his deployment, she spread the word to ensure he got cards for the holidays.

She’s also rescued countless cats and dogs, finding them loving homes.

Her colleagues recognize her generosity.

“She is so giving to whomever and whatever,” one said. “She has a big heart and is constantly helping others.”

So many more
Every day, members of the Kansas City Police Department do something to help the suffering they encounter. Many have adopted needy families for Christmas. Others are helping organize a city-wide Christmas day dinner for the elderly and lonely who have nowhere else to go. Some buy and deliver food to needy families. One officer organized a drive to help a family who lost everything in a November fire rebuild their lives. The officers of the PAL Unit have an annual Christmas party for children and teens who wouldn’t otherwise expect much under the tree. These acts of generosity aren’t written in any policies, they’re just ingrained into the people of the Kansas City Police Department.

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