The photo was taken when Officer Michael Castillo of Ansonia, Connecticut, was called to Target because of reports of kids fighting outside. When Officer Castillo got to the scene, there was no fight. Instead, the children told him that they were friends and one of their bikes had broken. They were sitting on the ground together, trying to get it fixed.
At that moment, Officer Castillo could have left. His work was clearly done. But instead he did exactly what you wouldn't expect from a busy police officer who had work to do — he went back to his cruiser, got out some tools and fixed the bike chain himself. He didn't know that a bystander, Faith Taylor, had snapped a picture of his good Samaritan act and would later post it to the Ansonia Police Department Facebook page, where it went viral.
A random act of kindness like this is important for a few reasons. First, it's hard to ignore that everywhere you turn, the news is horrible. People are dying, children are being neglected and abused, and sharks are attacking off the coast of Florida. It's the good stories like this that are the palate cleanser, so to speak. They remind us there is still good in the world and that danger isn't lurking around every corner.
Just as important is the impact this picture has on the reputation of police officers in America. There are still plenty of people who support the police force, as they should. But because of negative media attention — related to police controversies surrounding the deaths of Sandra Bland and Eric Garner and especially the brutal shooting of Samuel DeBose — there are more people than ever who don't trust the police.
It's the proverbial bad apple in the bunch — some crooked cops have ruined it for everyone.
The police aren't all bad, as this picture proves. Yes, there is an ongoing problem with racism and violence in the police force that needs to be addressed. But for every negative story you hear in the news, there are hundreds of other officers, the unsung heroes, who are keeping their heads down and doing their job to serve and protect. Officer Castillo, who stopped and helped children in need by fixing their bike; Officer Struck, who comforted a toddler by the side of the road after her father was killed in a car crash; and Officer Black, who fed a baby in the mall after her mom had a seizure — to name a few.
It's easy to buy in to the "good cop, bad cop" paradigm when we hear about so many acts of police brutality in the news. But this picture helps put it in perspective — there are more than 900,000 law enforcement officers currently serving in the United States compared to the 400 fatal police shootings in 2015 so far.
We can all agree that unwarranted police shootings like the Samuel DuBose killing are inexcusable and need to stop. But we can't let these careless and often cruel police officers poison the well. Officer Castillo is living proof that there are good cops out there doing their job every day, without expecting any credit.
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