Sadly, the authorities get a bad reputation from a few bad apples, but a story coming out of Camden County, New Jersey, shows that there are a lot of people who still take their mission ‘to serve and protect’ very seriously. What’s more, they’re willing to go the extra mile to do just that.
Tondeleya Bagby works as an emergency services dispatcher in Camden County, New Jersey. One day, a call came in that, although it didn’t officially fall under their remit, she knew she had to take action.
She didn’t actually take the call herself, but she had monitored the call of another police dispatcher who was on the phone with a desperate mother, and when she realised the severity of her situation, she knew she had to do something about it.
The conversation went like this:
“I had went to local churches and everything trying to find food for my children,” the woman said in the 911 call. “My kids have not eaten since yesterday.”
“Well this is for police only,” the dispatcher said. “It’s not for this.”
“I know, and my phone is off,” the woman replied. “I can’t call nobody.”
Obviously, this was a horrible situation for the mother and her young kids to be in.
To make matters worse, the lady’s children could also be heard crying in the background. At this time, the operator stopped being a police dispatcher for a moment, and acted as a fellow mother with empathy and love.
Bagby’s heart just sank when she heard the kids crying, so she sent over an officer with some fast food to hold the kids over until more help could arrive.
Bagby told a reporter covering the story:
“I overheard it. It made me sad. I couldn’t imagine not being able to provide for my child.”
It was an amazing gesture to send the family a fast food meal when they were hungry, out of her own pocket. Bagby wasn’t done there, though – she asked the officer to let her know what he had found.
He called her after delivering the food to the family and explained that all five family members were living in a one-bedroom apartment. At this point, she knew the family needed more help. After all, it wouldn’t be long until the kids were hungry again.
After learning of the conditions the family were living in, Bagby, her mother, Camden County Sgt. Tracy Seigel, and a few other officers all got together and bought groceries for the family out at their own expense.
After they had collected enough, they went and delivered the groceries to the family themselves. The mom and her kids were overwhelmed with happiness and relief.
“I went to two stores to just get as much as I could.”, said Bagby.
Bagby said that the children were very excited to get the food items. I’m sure they were – imagine what a great feeling it would have been to receive a whole load of groceries when you were hungry and had no way out of your situation.
“The kids came down the steps in excitement. And she thanked us,” Seigel said.
The county is currently looking for more ways to help the family get back on their feet and avoid problems like this in the future. It’s clear that something fundamental needs to change, but it’s so great that the authorities genuinely care about the most vulnerable in their community.
Bagby is happy that she and her fellow officers could help in the short term, and is glad that she was working that day. After all, if a mother is willing to call 911 because she can’t feed her children, she must really be desperate.
For their help with the call, Camden County Police Department named Officer Hinton and Sgt. Seigel the Officers of the Week. And how richly deserved that honour is!
It’s so refreshing to hear stories like this – at a time when much of the country is so divided, it’s great to hear about people pulling together to help out those in need.
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