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Officer’s act of kindness gains notice in media

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: February 17, 2015

Emmett Township Department of Public Safety Officer Ben Hall was just doing what officers all over the country do everyday when he opted to buy a booster seat for a woman instead of handing her a ticket. But unlike other officers who don’t receive public recognition for their acts of kindness, news of this POLC officer’s good deed has spread worldwide.

“We have had 80,000 hits on our Facebook page and 300 comments,” Lt. Tony Geigle said. “We have had calls from Tennessee, Chicago, Denmark and the United Kingdom.”

Hall has been contacted by the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” and information about his traffic stop has been on NBC’s “Today” show and “Nightly News,” CNN and Fox. Hall even did a radio interview with a Detroit station. “I have never seen anything to this extent,” Geigle said.

Hall, 31, was alerted to a woman driving a vehicle with a child not properly restrained in a booster seat Oct. 3. He saw the vehicle drive past him and pulled the vehicle over and spoke with the child’s mother, Alexis DeLorenzo and her 5-year-old daughter, who was in the backseat wearing just a seatbelt.

“When I spoke to (DeLorenzo) she was very forthcoming and knew that the child should be in a booster seat,” Officer Hall said. “She admitted that she was wrong and that she had recently fallen on hard times.”

She said her car was repossessed and the car seat was inside and the holding agency would not return it to her. DeLorenzo, whose husband was recently diagnosed with cancer, said she could not afford to buy another one since he is not working.

“I knew right away that I wasn’t going to write a ticket,” Hall said. “That solves nothing. This young mother already has enough financial difficulties. A ticket doesn’t get the kid a booster seat.”

Normally, in a situation like that, a law enforcement officer may refer the individual to traditional aide services, but since it was a Friday night and those agencies were closed for the weekend, Hall took matters into his own hands. He asked the mother to meet him at a nearby Walmart in Battle Creek where he bought the girl a booster seat.

Hall said memories of children killed in accidents contributed to his action. When they were choosing a seat, Hall said, “She (the daughter) ran up to it and hugged it and said I like this one. It was the easiest $50 I ever spent.”

“He could’ve given me a ticket; he could’ve done a million different things,” DeLorenzo said. “But instead he did something to help me. He made it possible for me to make sure my daughter is always safe. That to me is priceless.”

DeLorenzo said she typically borrowed booster seats from friends, but on this particular day she wasn’t expecting to pickup her daughter. “I pulled a different shift that day, he (Hall) was pulling overtime. Normally I wouldn’t’ pick my daughter up,” she said. “If you look at all the circumstances about why we met that day, there’s something bigger there.”

“People often misunderstand or don’t realize that actions like this happen more frequently than what you realize,” said Emmett Township Police Chief Mike Olson. “He weighed everything out and asked, ‘Is it better to write her a ticket or ensure the child’s safety.’ I thought it was a well thought out decision.”

“It was something that police officers do a thousand times a day across the country and 99 percent of them have no recognition,” Hall said. “I’m certainly not the first and I guarantee not the last,” Hall said.

Hall recounted the stories of a police officer in Denver who bought an elderly lady a door and installed it after her house was broken into and a New York Police Officer who bought a homeless man a pair of shoes. He wondered why his act of kindness received so much attention until he received a call from a fellow officer.

“He said something that will stick with me the rest of my life: ‘For whatever reason, they have chosen this to highlight law enforcement,’” Hall said the officer told him. ”This attention is no longer about me; it’s about law enforcement and the chance that we can have a positive image.”

“There’s so much bad press in the news lately, people need something to look forward to,” DeLorenzo said. “I initially called our local newspapers to get him recognition.”

She also posted a statement on the Emmett Township Facebook page. “Thank you all for the support and kind words, whether you’re family, a friend or a stranger, thank you all,” DeLorenzo wrote. “This officer has changed my life, not just because he purchased a car seat for my 5 year old, but because he has opened my eyes and given me hope.”

“If I can change the perception of the view of law enforcement at least to those two people,” Hall said, “I think that’s the biggest compliment someone can give me. It’s a humbling experience.”

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