Our boys in blue are at it again.
This story comes courtesy of local resident Karissa Weiler, who stopped by our office this week with four-year-old son Benjamin in tow while emphatically proclaiming, “Someone needs to know about what our cops did for us.”
Recently, Weiler and her family were hit with some bad news. She’d learned her husband has a brain tumor and the future, which she spelled out in front of young Benjamin, was not looking “G-O-O-D.”
Still processing the news on a particularly bad day, Weiler was in line at Dutch Bros. when she noticed a patrol car. “I was like, ‘Oh God, I need a badge,’” she said, hoping something small could lift her son’s spirits though he doesn’t quite understand the severity of the situation, yet.
Benjamin, she said, “came out of the womb with this incredible love for police and firemen. I don’t know why. Maybe he’s going to be one. But they’re his go to toys and shows from day one.”
Weiler approached the officer behind the wheel, St. Helens Police Department (SHPD) Officer Kolten Edwards and explained that her husband was sick and, “Can I have a badge for my son? It would just be cool for him.”
“He was like, ‘Oh my god, of course.’ And then he only had one. So, I think he felt like he could have done more, and I just said, ‘thanks’ and drove away. That was literally it,” Weiler said.
Edwards thought to himself, “We can do more for this family.” He told his fellow officers about the moment in line at Dutch Bros. and, together with officers Seann Luedke, Bryan Cutright and Dylan Gaston, they formed a plan.
“I could tell she was having a rough day and when I’m in line, anyone who gets out of their car and all they want is a sticker to make their kid better? That’s what makes an alert go off in our minds,” Edwards said.
Weiler had not left any contact information, so they tracked her down by running her automobile license plates through their system. When Edwards called her to set up a time to stop by, Weiler admitted with a laugh that she thought she was in trouble.
“I kind of had to pull out of the parking lot quickly because the surgeon was calling my phone and I couldn’t get my Bluetooth to connect to my stereo,” she said. “I thought I might not have driven the most appropriately out of there.”
When Weiler, out of nervous curiosity, asked Edwards why he was calling, she said his answer was simple. “He said, ‘Because I love my community and I wanted to check in.’ Who talks like that? No one.” Weiler said.
Luedke said there is no cultivated plan for moments like these.
“If there’s someone we can do something for, let’s do something. Especially with kids. They still love police and they’re so innocent,” he said. “For us, I think, at this point in our community policing era, we get excited for those opportunities to give back in a more positive light rather than holding people accountable and making arrests.”
Cutright, who also has a four-year-old, found out his child attended the same preschool that Benjamin does. He asked Weiler what kinds of things her son was interested in and liked to play with.
“She said he loved police. I know Paw Patrol is pretty common for that age, so we went out to Walmart and got him some stuff,” Cutright said.
Edwards noted that Cutright had gone “above and beyond” to help him set up the meeting. “Any one of our guys would do this for anyone,” he said.
Weiler said the officers showed up at her house in three patrol cars, including one of the new SHPD vehicles, with lights flashing and that little “whoop whoop siren salute thing they do.” They pulled into the driveway in a line and Benjamin “was already freaking out and looking out the windows.”
The family quickly slipped on shoes and went outside with Weiler’s husband, who had just recently had surgery, so Benjamin could get a proper introduction.
“He jumped in the cars and really loved hitting the siren and probably scared me the most because I wasn’t paying attention before he did it,” Luedke said with a chuckle.
The officers came armed with police board games, stickers, a Paw Patrol stuffed animal which Weiler said her son has now taken up sleeping with, and a “challenge coin” courtesy of the Police Association.
“We give those out for bravery and honesty, and we gave it to him for the fact that he’s remaining positive,” Luedke said. “I understand he may not understand his father’s situation, but we gave him a coin to remind him to stay positive.”
Unfortunately, Gaston couldn’t make it to Weiler’s house that day due to working another call, but Edwards, Cutright and Luedke each made a point to mention he was also involved, and they all said this was the part of the job they really enjoyed.
“The whole thing was just a nice moment. It’s funny – this happened at the end of my shift and I chose to stay just to go see the smile on his face,” Leudeke said. “It’s what we go there for – the emotion and the event of it.”
Weiler said the event made her son’s day and he went to bed with a grin from ear-to-ear. “In this day and age, we’re just so programmed to think that they aren’t helpful and it’s all these other negative things,” she said. “And then to just have this most epic, positive thing happen – it needs to be spread about so people think of those kinds of things when they think of our service professionals.”
This reporter managed to get all of two words out of young Benjamin during his visit to the office. When asked if there was anything he wanted to say to the officers who stopped by, he quickly pulled a lollipop from his mouth and flashed a blue-stained grin.
Have you heard of a story about someone in the community going “above and beyond” to lift someone up the way these officers have? Let us know so we can spread the positivity! Call us at 503-397-0116, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or just stop by our office, located at 1805 Columbia Blvd.