Justin Gower and Cale Hawkins, two police officers in Cedar Park, Texas, know their job is to protect and help their community. They also know the way to do that is more than just handing out tickets.
Officer Gower was on patrol one afternoon when he saw a truck with a malfunctioning light. It was a routine procedure, but when he pulled the truck over, he discovered a greater offense:
“When I was up there talking to the driver, that’s when I realized there was three kids in the back seat without car seats,” Gower recalled to KVUE.
The sight shocked Gower, not just as a police officer but as a father himself.
“I was upset because it’s extremely dangerous,” he told KXAN.
“I have kids and I know how fragile they are, especially how young these kids were.”
Naturally, Gower was going to immediately issue three tickets to the driver as a penalty—a hefty fine, which would hopefully get the man to wise up and buy car seats.
But then, Gower recognized the man.
He had never met him himself, but he heard his story from other officers who had come across him.
He remembered “about, you know, he’s saving money, he’s living in a car, he’s trying to get his family down,” Gower recalled to KVUE.
Gower realized that the man couldn’t afford the car seats—and that giving him the tickets would only make things even harder for the family, and even less likely he’d buy them.
“Giving him three tickets, it wasn’t going to do any good,” said Gower.
“Those kids were still going to have to be driven somewhere, somehow with no car seats.”
He called up Officer Hawkins, remembering that he had interacted with the driver recently. He remembered the man’s hardships.
“They were living in a hotel and he said all of his money was going to that at this time,” Hawkins told KVUE.
The officers knew they couldn’t in good conscience issue the tickets, but they also couldn’t let him keep driving around with no car seats.
So the officers went above and beyond the line of duty, and came up with the perfect solution:
They would buy the car seats themselves.
“We just kind of stepped off to the side and said we need to kind of do the right thing and get these people some car seats,” Hawkins said.
While Gower interacted with the driver, Hawkins went to a local Walmart to buy three car seats—a total of $145, out of the officer’s own pockets.
Despite the personal expense, neither officer minded at all—they knew they were doing what they could to keep a family from ruin.
“They’re trying to get things going, they’re going in the right direction, and to issue them three citations for each child, would just devastate them,” Gower told KXAN.
“Money is not the issue, it’s the issue of can you help them, and so that was the easiest way we saw, the fastest path to helping them,” Hawkins added.
They met the driver at a gas station and even installed the seats themselves.
The driver has remained anonymous, but in a statement to KVUE he expressed his sincere gratitude for the officers’ generosity: