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On Nov. 7 Westminster Police Field Training Officer Matt Edinger and Officer Jaredd Montgomery answered a call for a welfare check request for a woman’s 95-year-old sister. She kept getting a busy tone when she called for three days.
The officers found the woman’s sister doing well at her Westminster residence, but her phone was on the fritz.
“‘I’m fine, but I’m having trouble with my phone,’” Edinger recalled her saying.
The phone company had already been out twice but the problem remained. The officers agreed they couldn’t leave her alone without a working phone. So they went to find her a new one.
It took some time to find a phone with large buttons, for better visibility for seniors, but after visiting several local stores, they finally found one. But when they brought it back and connected it, the line still wasn’t working.
Montgomery got on the phone with the phone company. It took some doing but they were able to send out a service tech that day who finally figured out the problem.
“She’s the cutest thing. ‘Here, let me buy you guys coffee,’” she told Edinger. When he told her it wasn’t necessary, she tried slipping him some coffee money in her handshake.
“We just tried to look at it from the [perspective that]if that was our parent,” said Edinger.
A new officer at the agency Montgomery is still in training – and learning important lessons from the veteran FTO Edinger.
“What do we try to do?” Edinger asked Montgomery. To which Montgomery responded: “One good deed a day.”
Edinger added, “At least three times a week, we get to help somebody.”
While Edinger knows catching bad guys is an important part of being a police officer. Over his 21 years at WPD, he’s also learned the importance of connecting with people and helping them by just doing something nice.
In fact, going above and beyond as they did by buying the elderly woman a new phone and making sure she got her line fixed, is not unusual. On that same day, just an hour before the welfare check, the officers responded to a call about a transient possibly trying to break into a laundromat. It turned out he wasn’t, but the officers learned he hadn’t eaten in two days. So they bought him breakfast.
“He was absolutely astonished,” Edinger said of the transient. He added: “He’s still a human being. He’s somebody’s kid.”
But Edinger is quick to point out that they didn’t do anything unique.
“There’s a hundred officers here and there’s a hundred of these stories,” Edinger said. “You see somebody that needs something and you do it. … It’s the right thing to do.”
He talked about the officer who gave a transient a Starbucks gift card and the one who bought a reflective jacket for a transient to help keep him safe from traffic. But generally, the stories go unheard because the officers aren’t doing it for fanfare.
“There’s stories like this that go on all the time,” Edinger said.
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