The woman approached the officers eating lunch at a Mexican restaurant.
Instinctively, La Habra PD Officer Tim Shea’s guard went up.
It’s not every day a person approaches an officer. And these days, those who do usually want to dish out verbal abuse.
But Malinda McColliam, dining with her daughter and grandson at Ricardo’s El Ranchito, gave Shea a handwritten note.
Hmm, OK, a suspicious Shea thought.
He started reading it: I noticed you all having lunch and I have a favor to ask.
Up to this point, Shea, and his fellow officers, hadn’t given much thought to the trio dining at the adjacent table.
One of them was a little boy in a stroller.
Around Thanksgiving last year, La Mirada residents Brandon and Malissa Davies noticed the youngest of their three children was having trouble walking.
Jack was 5 at the time.
They also noticed he was having trouble talking, as well as experiencing numbness in his arm and leg.
After several visits to the doctor and waiting to get Jack an appointment with a specialist, a frustrated and frightened Malissa took him to an ER three days after Thanksgiving.
A CT scan came back abnormal.
Jack was rushed to Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, where an MRI revealed he had a tumor on his brain stem.
The news devastated Jack’s parents and his siblings, 15-year-old Kaya and Jimmy, 12.
Jack went in for emergency brain surgery. Doctors were able to remove 90 percent of the tumor.
A second surgery followed.
Outside his hospital room, McColliam — Malissa’s mother, and Jack’s grandmother – noticed some of the personal information each pediatric patient shares with others.
Jack shared his favorite color, who he likes to play with, and what he wants to be when he grows up:
A police officer.
So on that day in February, when McColliam — visiting from Seattle — and Malissa and Jack were eating at the Mexican eatery tucked in an unassuming strip mall, McColliam decided to write the note.
Jack, now 6, had recently undergone his second eight-hour brain surgery.
Shea, dining with Traffic Sgt. Jim Tigner and motor officers Sumner Bohee and Jim Geer, read about his plight and his desire to becoming a police officer.
McColliam’s simple request was for the LHPD officers to say hi to Jack.
They did, and then gave Jack sticker badges.
They then took him outside and sat him on a motorcycle and flipped on the lights.
“You could see how happy he was,” Shea recalled. “His mother and grandmother started crying.”
The La Habra officers invited Jack to tour the station.
A few days later, Jack did — accompanied by his grandmother and brother.
On Tuesday, April 4, Jack returned to the LHPD for his second tour — this time with his parents, Malissa, an escrow officer, and Brandon, who works in construction.
“Feeling better?” Shea greeted Jack. “You’re looking a lot better, buddy.”
Jack and his parents then toured the LHPD’s SWAT vehicle.
Accompanying Shea were Sgt. Eric Ocampo and Officer Steve Highley, as well as other members of the seven-person SWAT team, which is part of the five-agency North County SWAT team.
Jack appeared to be in awe of the department’s SWAT multi-purpose equipment truck, which the LHPD acquired two years ago.
“Hey, Jack, this is my vest I wear,” Ocampo told the boy. “It weighs more than 40 pounds and has a lot of stuff on it.”
Ocampo showed Jack his SWAT helmet.
It took some coaxing, but Jack finally tried it on.
“We’re testing for SWAT now, Jack, if you want to put in an application,” Ocampo said.
“You already have a helmet.”
Ocampo and the other SWAT officers showed Jack a shield, tools for busting down doors, as well as batons, guns and rifles and a SWAT demo video.
They presented Jack with a brand-new SWAT challenge coin, which memorializes Kenny Alexander, the 48-year-old Placentia lieutenant and decorated Army veteran who died in November 2014, at age 48, after suffering a massive heart attack.
Alexander was a key member of the North County SWAT team.
“Thank you,” Jack said.
Malissa Davies had no idea her mother was writing the note.
“I thought it was really nice of her,” she said.
Malissa was “blown away” by the LHPD officers who stopped by their table.
“It was a special day — really nice,” she said. “And unexpected.”
Shea said he and his fellow officers weren’t looking for attention by befriending Jack — and giving him two tours (and counting) of the LHPD.
“I’m just doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” said Shea, who recently became a father.
“It means a lot to you guys,” Shea told Malissa and Brandon at the recent tour, “but it means more for me. It touches my heart. That’s what we’re here for: to help people.”
Brandon’s eyes welled up.
“God bless you,” he told Shea. “I tear up coming home from work thinking about you in particular. You don’t even know us, and you care. That just means the world to us. God bless you for showing love to my little boy and to my family.”
With that, Jack and his parents left.
Before they did, they were invited to return to see SWAT training the following week.
This week, Jack is scheduled to begin radiation treatment at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He will have to do it five days a week for six weeks straight, and he must sit completely still for the entire radiation process or be sedated each time.
Malissa has posted on social media her appreciation of the LHPD.
In one post, she wrote: “Who said cops aren’t nice?”
To visit Jack’s Go Fund Me page, click here