ST. GEORGE — Washington City Police officers have been seen on video and photos performing random acts of kindness, according to messages and videos posted on the department’s social media site.
In two separate instances the officers were recognized by residents and bystanders for going above and beyond the call of duty, acts that did not go unnoticed by the public.
“That’s the good things officers do every day that go unnoticed,” one commenter said on the posts.
One incident took place Sept. 3 and involved a man who was sitting under the Exit 10 overpass with a sleeping bag and his belongings in the afternoon heat that had reached triple-digit temperatures.
Washington City Police officers Matt Pratt and Vince Neighbor were checking in on Project Lifesaver recipients and were en route to another residence when they saw the man.
“I looked at the outside temperature display in the truck and saw that it was 110 degrees,” Pratt said.
That is when Pratt and his partner pulled into the Chevron gas station on West Buena Vista Drive and picked up a gallon of water, a bag of candy, protein bars, Powerade and a chicken sandwich.
The officers made their way through traffic to return to where the man was sitting, Pratt said, and when they approached it appeared the man thought he was going to be asked to leave.
“He looked like he thought we were there to kick him out and started gathering up his things,” Pratt said.
Instead, the officers handed the food and water over to the man and gave him their business cards, telling him to call them if he needed anything – even if it was help getting into a shelter, Neighbor said.
“We told him we’d get him there.”
Connie Olivas recorded the incident and posted it on the department’s website. She told St. George News she posted it “because they do so much with so little recognition.”
See video in media player at the top of this report
Both Pratt and Neighbor said they became police officers because they wanted to help people, a trait ingrained in the men since childhood. For Neighbor, the decision to join the police force was an extension of his service in the military.
“I joined the military because I wanted to help people, and once that was over I joined the police department for the same reason,” Neighbor said.
Pratt told St. George News that when he was growing up his father would buy an extra meal while going through the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant, and then he would give the meal to a homeless person or someone in need.
“He never said a word to us about what he was doing,” he said. “He would just hand the meal to someone that looked like they needed it — I’ve never forgotten that.”
The other incident took place Aug. 19 when a call came into the St. George Communications Center reporting that a woman and her small child were stranded at a gas station on Telegraph Street in Washington. The caller was worried with outside temperatures hovering above 100 degrees.
Washington City Police officer Mitch McInnes responded to the call and found the woman at the gas station with an infant and a car seat but no vehicle. The woman said she was stranded after her ride did not show up. She also told the officer she had no way of getting back to her home in the Dixie Downs area of St. George.
McInnes placed the pair in his patrol vehicle after some maneuvering with the car seat and drove them to their home in St. George, which he said isn’t a typical situation officers find themselves in.
“For the most part we don’t go out of our city limits, but this was a pretty sad situation, so I did what I could to help her,” he said.
The incident may have gone unnoticed but for a message posted by Kaylee Morgan, who provided the backstory to that day.
Morgan posted the information and added, “Huge shout-out to the Washington City Police Department for helping my friend out and her precious baby.”
Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams said the department’s mission statement is to “protect and serve those who reside in, or visit Washington City.” That means “anyone who is visiting or living here,” he said, including the man under the overpass or a stranded mother and her baby.
Williams said it goes beyond a mission statement that is posted on the department’s website and is a part of the department’s culture to help those in need, regardless of who they are. He also said that when it comes right down to it, both of the incidents were the result of a decision made by the officers who took the time to help, “and that desire to serve is part of that officer’s character.”
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