A group of Cleveland police officers from the fourth district spent hours consoling, comforting and counseling a grieving family Saturday that had just endured the loss of their young daughter.
Not only that, the four officers later brought the family pizza and soft drinks – a small measure of comfort in their grief. The officers’ actions impressed the family’s pastor so much, he plans on presenting the officers with a plaque of gratitude.
Gregory McCurry, the pastor of New Beginnings Ministries on West 65th Street, captured the officers’ charitable acts and posted them to social media. McCurry said it was vitally important to highlight the officers going above and beyond the call of duty.“
I’ve never seen this before in my life. I’m been around in the streets. I’ve seen [police] interact with people. But when I got there these four officers in the fourth district, they wrapped themselves around this whole situation,” McCurry said. “They didn’t have to do that. They could have [gone] on their runs and did what they had to do. But for them to come back and minister to this family, it changed everybody’s life.”
McCurry said he was notified by the family that their 21-year-old daughter had died overnight. It’s the call that no minister nor police officer wants to respond to. When he arrived, what he saw amazed him, McCurry said.
“I didn’t even look at them like police officers. I looked at them as serving the community,” McCurry said. “We do have some good police officers out here. Today, I witnessed four of them.”
McCurry said the four officers, identified as Sgt. Tito Torres, Officers Scott Floyd, Rick Varndell and Al Bucconi, made it their priority to counsel the family in every way imaginable. They stayed with the grief-stricken family. They prayed with them. They shielded and surrounded the girl’s mother as the coroner removed the body. The officers did everything they could to help, McCurry said.
McCurry said one of the officers pulled one of the girl’s family members aside and hugged him. McCurry found out later that the officer and the family member had a history together.
“The reason the officer took so much time with him is because he remembered that young man being on the other side [of the law],” McCurry said. “And he said this was a young man that he used to have trouble with. For [the officer] to see him this situation and [the family member] getting his life together, [the officer] didn’t want to leave [the family member] by himself.”
And so the officer stayed with him. The other three officers told McCurry and the rest of the family that they would be back later in the day to check on the family.
They remained true to their word – and then some.
“They were acting more like ministers,” McCurry said.
McCurry said one of the officers arrived and began to pull a half-dozen pizza boxes from the trunk of his patrol car. Another officer arrived with plastic bags filled with bottles of soda. The last officer supplied the ice.
Lunch was on them.
“They set it up for the family. They came back out to make sure everything was okay,” McCurry said. “And I’ve never seen anything like that before where officers were on the scene, left the scene, got their money together, and came back to make sure that that family didn’t have to worry about that. That was charity today. I asked them can I take your picture. they said we normally don’t allow this because we’re not here to promote us. That was impressive to me.”
Despite the officers’ objections, they allowed McCurry to take a photo. McCurry later posted the photo and his account of their charitable acts to Facebook in an effort to demonstrate that there are plenty of police officers who commit good deeds that often go unnoticed.
It was the very definition of charity, McCurry said.“This was not sensitivity training. This was people who were doing something from their heart.That made the difference,” McCurry said. “It wasn’t a badge. It was his heart. That’s what made the difference today.”
McCurry said his congregation plans on writing a letter to the Fourth District and presenting the officers with a plaque of appreciation.