Top Cop: Neenah Police Officer makes small investment of time but makes big difference to citizen
We feature this story today, because we promised to highlight the little things police officers do that make a big difference in someone's life. This story was shared by Neenah Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson:
When an 89-year-old widower, who lives alone, runs out of pre-paid minutes on the cell phone his son acquired for him, what can he do? He can’t call anyone for assistance, because the phone won’t work. The neighbors aren’t home, and he has no other way to contact family.
One sharp senior citizen in Neenah knew what to do. He recalled that a pre-paid phone would still dial 9-1-1 even after the minutes were used up. So he called the Winnebago County 911 center and was transferred to the Neenah Police Department, where a Communications Technician listened compassionately to the man’s dilemma.
And while the situation was outside the responsibility of the police department, Neenah Police employees saw it as an opportunity to build trust and rapport with a member of the senior community. As remarkable as it sounds, an officer actually went to the man’s apartment and transported him to the department store to replenish his cell phone minutes. That little investment of time and effort made an impact.
But not just on the senior citizen. The officer was amazed at the man’s knowledge and experience, and shared openly about it with other officers at the station. Some time later, a lieutenant visited with the man and learned even more of his history, discovering the man had actually met Thomas Edison, along with other endless experiences. That led to a visit by the Chief, was inspired to write an article for the local paper about the remarkable man.
And after all that, which police employee does the man remember most fondly? That wonderful patrol officer who took him to get his cell phone issue resolved.
It’s very easy to say, “That’s not my job.” We hear it in police work and other professions every day. But more and more, our police officers are instead saying, “I’ll see what I can do,” and they find opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. They make connections. They build trust.