Big hearts with badges E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

“'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” Supposedly some guy called Jesus of Nazareth said something along those lines while he was preaching across Galilee a couple thousand years back. To understand what the meaning of that translation is all about, you can’t do much better than a recent article from the San Francisco Chronicle about a group of police officers that helped out a homeless family in trouble.

A group of San Francisco’s Finest recently went in to their own pockets so a homeless family with no place to go could get out of the rain and into a warm hotel for the night.

It’s the kind of gesture that can to some degree restore one’s faith in humanity.

"You see a lot on this beat, but this one was really unique," Officer Eithne Cummins told reporters.

It was on a recent Friday evening when the call came in to Southern Station from Salvation Army workers.

They were handing out hot chocolate to homeless people near Civic Center as a nasty rainstorm was bearing down on the city.

"They said they had just served a father and his five children who appeared to have nowhere to go," said Lt. Teresa Gracie.

Cummins and three other officers who were on patrol nearby responded.

They quickly located the desperate father and five children, ranging in age from 12 years to 8 months.

They were huddled together for warmth against the downpour.

"Here were these five kids, all dressed well but just down on their luck with all their bags and two strollers," Cummins said.

The family is from Florida and had been staying in a local shelter. But they missed the 8 p.m. door closing and were stranded.

"The eldest daughter, who was 12, seemed to be taking care of the other kids and the dad was just kind of lost," Cummins said.

Like most cops in these situations, the San Francisco officers did their best. They made several calls to city and charity services alike.

But finding a place for homeless family to stay for even just a night is becoming increasingly difficult.

The officers were told flatly that no one was in a position to help.

But there was no way the officers were going to pack it in and let the family fend for themselves.

There was a hotel nearby and Cummins and fellow Officers Valerie Durkin, Brian Carew and Brendan Caraway all chipped in their meal money until they had the $65 a room for the night costs.

The officers then bundled up the grateful family and got them a room at the Budget Inn. They even went across the street to the CVS and bought wet wipes and formula for the baby.

That alone would be a heartwarming story but the cops didn’t stop there.

The next day, their lieutenant spent as long as it took and got the family a place to stay.

The officers’ generosity was not lost on their lieutenant.

She called the neighborhood burrito shop and ordered dinner for the cops who had given up their own meal money the night before.

Some people think public safety is largely about barricaded suspects and epic shoot-outs between cops and bad guys- and that’s without question a part of the job.

But another part of the job involves going out of your way to help people in bad situations- especially kids. And these officers deserve special recognition for the compassion and generosity they showed a family simply because it was the right thing to do.

As the saying goes, “Courage is doing the right thing when nobody's looking.”


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