August 26, 2010

Going Above and Beyond



I know that Aurora Police officers provide excellent service to the citizens of Aurora on a daily basis. If you are rolling your eyes, perhaps you were the unfortunate recipient of a traffic citation or other incident of misfortune. Even so, I believe the majority of the police officers you encounter are polite and professional even when enforcing the law. Like your own profession, there are only a small percentage of police officers that skew the perspective with a bad attitude.

Despite the overwhelming majority of good police officers, unfortunately it is the negative encounters we remember much the same way we tell more people about bad customer service we have received in a restaurant or a store than we do about good service. Being treated badly evokes such emotion that we go out of our way to warn anyone who will listen about a negative experience. As customers, we expect good service and when it is delivered we simply go about our lives without giving it much thought. If you are like me, you will make a mental note to express thanks for good service but then never follow through. My head is filled with good intentions but thought that does not follow action may as well not have been a thought at all.

When someone does take the time out of their busy day to compose a note or an e-mail for good service they have received from the Aurora Police Department, I am always extremely grateful. Deb Czajka, a kindergarten teacher and mother of two, probably doesn’t have a lot of free time in her schedule. And yet, she found the time to write a letter about an encounter she had with Aurora Police Officer James Zegar.

On a recent afternoon, Deb noticed the air in one of her mother’s car tires was very low so she followed her to a nearby gas station to inflate the tire. Deb was having difficulty with the air pump when she spotted a squad car parked nearby. She rapped on the window and asked Officer Zegar to assist her. According to Deb, he willingly assisted, inflating the tire while educating her about the equipment.

Officer Zegar noticed that Deb’s children were craning their necks from inside the car and asked if they would like to come talk to him. She told him her six year old would love to meet him but her three year old was afraid of police officers for reasons unbeknownst and may have some reservations. She described Officer Zegar as being genuinely concerned that her youngest son was fearful so he set out to change that impression. He allowed both boys to “help” him inflate the tire and then allowed them inside his squad car where they got to turn on the overhead lights. She offered this:

“A casual observer might wonder why a police officer would help to fill a tire or take the time to play with kids while on-duty. I would tell that person that Officer Zegar was building community relations with my mother and me. He was also educating my children. Through his kindness and actions Officer Zegar set a wonderful example for my six year old and reaffirmed his idea that police officers are “really cool” and helpful people..”

In Deb’s letter, she said that Officer James Zegar made a difference in her life through his willingness to assist her outside of an emergency. Think about the magnitude of that statement. The single most compelling thing a person can do is to make a difference in the life of another. Police officers have the opportunity to do that every day by going above and beyond what is expected of them.

Come to think of it, we all do.

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