A group of Pennsylvania cops paid the bill for a couple who didn’t want to be seated near them at a restaurant, an extension of the olive branch at a time when relations between police and the people they serve are strained at best.
As WTAE in Pittsburgh reports, cops from Homestead and Whitaker — two neighboring towns in the Pittsburgh area — were having a meal Saturday at the Eat ‘N Park Restaurant in Homestead. Eat ‘N Park, for those not familiar, is a regional restaurant chain with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the surrounding area.
— Eat’n Park (@EatnPark) July 7, 2016
As the cops were eating, the hostess on duty tried to seat a couple at a table near where the police officers were eating. On seeing the cops, server Jesse Meyers said, the couple balked at sitting near them.
“A table goes to sit down and the guy looks over at one of the police officers and was like, ‘Nah I don’t want to sit here.’ So they got moved completely opposite, away from the police officers.”
Chuck Thomas, of the Homestead police, knew right away that the couple didn’t want to sit and eat near police.
“I looked over and said, ‘It’s okay sir. You won’t have to worry about it, we won’t hurt you.’ He looked at me hard again and said he’s not sitting here and walked away.”
As you are no doubt aware, relations between the police and the general public have been strained — to put it mildly — of late. The recent high-profile killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two men who died at the hands of police under questionable justification, and at times, violent protests in response (including the fatal shootings of five Dallas police officers), have driven a wedge between cops and the people they’re supposed to serve and protect.
That fact wasn’t lost on Thomas.
“Tensions in the community were tight. A lot of people were coming up to us and shaking our hands and thanking us, but you could just feel tight air through the community.”
Then and there, Thomas and his colleagues decided to show the couple that cops aren’t all bad: they pooled their money, and paid the couple’s $28.50 bill, including a $10 tip.
Video: Homestead officers pay bill of couple who refused to sit next to them at restaurant https://t.co/GyaK7nz2fC pic.twitter.com/4d5kPBDO2g
— WTAE-TV Pittsburgh (@WTAE) July 12, 2016
“Essentially the whole goal of it was to let him know that we’re not here to hurt you, we’re not here for that. We’re here for you. We work for the public. And we just want to better the relationship between the community and the police.”
This is not the first time a cop has gone above and beyond the call of duty just to do someone a solid when they didn’t have to. In June, 2015, according to this Inquisitr report, Officer Zach Ropos of the Lake County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office was on duty when he noticed a little girl’s lemonade stand, and struck up a conversation with her. When he found out that the girl, named Gabrielle, was saving up for an iPad, Ropos said he’d give her an old one he had lying around at home that he didn’t use any more. However, when Ropos found out that the old iPad didn’t work any more, he went way above and beyond the call of duty, and bought her a brand new one (a bare-bones iPad, brand new, will set you back about $399).
As for the Pennsylvania couple that didn’t want to be seated near a group of cops: as of now they haven’t publicly commented on their story. But Thomas says that as he and his fellow cops were leaving, the did manage to get a quick smile and a “thank you” from the couple that didn’t want to be seated near them.
[Image via Shutterstock/Mike Flippo]