The following is a Thanksgiving message from Cobb County Police Chief Stuart VanHoozer. In it, he shares a heartwarming story about the actions of some of Cobb County’s police officers that happened just before Thanksgiving.
The message is below and was posted on Thanksgiving on social media.
Today I woke up to a very blessed life, as many of you did. What woke me was a text message from Major Brian Batterton, our Precinct 4 Commander, directing me to an email about a “happy story”. While it was happy, it was also sad. It made me grateful – much more grateful than I was when I went to sleep last night.
This is the story from the email. A few days ago, a small group of officers were working their shift. Within one hour they arrested three people for felonies, they recovered drugs headed for our children, and they recovered one stolen gun. All within one hour.
Then at a nearby Quick Trip, they found a mom and her nine-year-old daughter living out of their car which had broken down there. The officers tried to find shelter for them through a few great community partners, but could not arrange it. So, the officers took the mom and her daughter to a hotel and paid for their stay.
Now we have heard stories like this before and they are touching. But the following day, the officers went back to the hotel to check on the pair. They still had not been able to make living arrangements through resources given. The officers on the shift, knowing about all this, collected enough money to pay for the mom and daughter to live in the hotel for a week.
Then the officers contacted an old, retired friend of the CCPD who works with Must Ministries. He took it from there, arranging housing for a month and help to get them back on their feet through a program designed for just this type of situation.
Yes a happy story; but also a sad one. This has been a cold week in Cobb County and there are many, like this small young family, who struggle to simply find shelter from the cold and enough to eat to sustain them through the day. The contrast between what I have and what some others have is stark and revealed so well in this incredible story.
I am no longer an officer on the road and even when I was, I didn’t do things like this very frequently. Our officers do this far more often than we know. This event is days old, and I only heard about this because it leaked to command staff. These officers did not do this to be recognized.
Two take away’s for me this Thanksgiving:
First, what amazing people we have in the Cobb County Police Department who on one hand, will chase and fight and arrest those who present serious danger to us, and then on the other hand, have the tenderness and compassion to help a struggling small vulnerable family. Two seemingly contrasting characteristics existing simultaneously inside one person wearing a badge.
Oddly, I have come to terms with this seeming dichotomy. Both the harsh police work and the tender assistance are driven from the same core value of commitment to something greater than self. Simply stated, the officers care. This is why they arrest three in an hour, get drugs off the street and seize handguns. They do it to protect. They do it at the risk of being hurt or even killed as we have seen to be so painfully true in recent months. They do it, knowing that the more often they do it, the more likely they will be to be assaulted, to make a mistake in a split second that may be quickly criticized by small but loud segments of society that rarely see the type of actions described for you today. I am thankful for our officers who on the one hand can be stronger, faster, and more committed than those who try to harm our community and on the other hand can show empathy and concern for a little girl and her mom who are cold, hungry, and tired.
My second takeaway concerns thought about how much or little we do to help people who need it the most. Most of us are very fortunate and have much more than we need. Most of us are very blessed and can often do more to help those who may not be as fortunate.
I appeal to my fellow Cobb Countians to first, thank a law enforcement officer – today of all days. For working when most of us are home relaxing, for what they do while we sleep tonight. And second, I appeal to my fellow Cobb Countians to help someone less fortunate, today and in the future.
I hope all of us can understand how lucky we are, not only for the blessings we have in a stable and safe county, but also in having officers like these who quietly do their jobs, risk their lives, help people, and work hard to remove dangerous people from the streets. They do these things each day due to their love of their community and their desire to help people.
Thank you to our community for your support. You will see many posts on great organizations who help CCPD by honoring our officers and by helping with problems like homelessness.
These organizations are easy to support if you are so inclined.
Have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving.