The Georgia state trooper knocked on the door and waited. When the door opened, he found that the four children who lived there were already dressed for Halloween.
Nathan Bradley had come bearing terrible news – the children's parents had just died in a car crash. Looking around at the "angry wizard," the "daughter of Dracula", and the "firefighting ninja turtle," he realized he didn't want their Halloween to be ruined. Mr. Bradley told them they were going out to dinner, KTLA reported.
"I wanted to preserve these kids' Halloween and the ones to come," Bradley later wrote on a GoFundMe page.
Bradley's decision to make Halloween a good memory for the four newly orphaned children made him part of an unofficial police pattern – using a position of power with the public to do good.
"This is one incident that has made national news, but I believe there are others." Trooper Dusty Starling at the Georgia Department of Public Safety tells The Christian Science Monitor. "We are charged with trust, fortitude, professionalism and compassion, and I think this comes directly from (Trooper Bradley's) compassion."
Bradley had contacted the children's closest living relative – a grandmother who would have to drive for seven hours from Florida – and she agreed that he could put the heart-wrenching news on hold, Bradley wrote. The state troopers took the children out for burgers and shakes and gave them a tour of the police station. They spent the evening with a local sheriff and his wife, who brought candy and a movie to watch to the station, where they spent the night, according to Bradley's account.
The trooper set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs and has raised nearly $260,000, which will go toward the parents' funeral, expenses of moving the children to Florida, and a trust fund for the children's eventual education, WSB News reported.
"I care a lot about them and I want to watch them succeed," Bradley said, according to WSB News. "I don't want this tragedy to shadow the rest of their lives."
Officers who are often on the front lines with tragedy can go beyond their duty to improve the situation. Police in New York decided to save Christmas when a burglar struck a home with seven kids around Christmastime. The local White Plains Police surprised the family with $1,500 in cash, gift cards, and replacement gifts, The Christian Science Monitor reported.
"We wanted to make sure there was a happy ending and a happy Christmas for this family," police union President Robert Riley told The Christian Science Monitor.
The flood of news about brutality on the part of police officers around the nation gives some people cause to fear a police uniform on more than just Halloween, but Mr. Starling of the Georgia Department of Public Safety says that in a culture that focuses more on "police misdeeds than good deeds," he hopes this incident can help.
"I don’t think it’s us versus them," Atlanta Police Department beat cop Barricia McCormick told The Christian Science Monitor. "I like knowing that on some level you’re making a difference in someone’s life."