Thanks to social media, one chivalrous act in Maryland has touched far more people than originally intended.
Last Wednesday, Police Corporal Che Atkinson was notified that a woman and her small child were sitting outside the Hyattsville City Police Department in Prince George’s County.
According to WUSA9, Atkinson–who has served as a police officer for eight years in the county–spoke with the woman and found out she had been a victim of domestic violence.
She fled her home, had to leave a shelter she was staying at, and was now homeless.
“The woman told the corporal she was doing okay, yet the situation still bothered Corporal Atkinson,” the Prince George’s County Police Department wrote in a Facebook post. “She had come to the police station because she had nowhere else to go.”
Atkinson arranged for a distant relative to pick the woman and her one-year-old daughter up, but saw them outside the station again the next day.
Atkinson then used his own money to pay for a hotel room for the woman until relatives could pick her up the next day. He found a car seat and safely transported the mother and child to the hotel in his cruiser. After he learned they had not eaten in two days, he also purchased food for the hungry family.
“I had the extra money,” Atkinson told WUSA9. “What would it hurt just to put them up for a night to make sure they’re safe?”
Throughout the ordeal, Atkinson’s sergeant took pictures. The photos, taken without Atkinson’s knowledge, were later posted to Facebook, and went viral.
Many thanked Atkinson and applauded his actions:
“It’s great to hear stories like this. I work with victims of domestic and sexual violence and unfortunately resources and shelters are very limited” wrote Elisa Carballo-Castillo. “Great job officer, I wish there were more officers like him.”
“A truly unselfish gesture,” Stephanie Collier wrote. “He is to be commended for truly living up to ‘Protect and Serve.’”
“Thanks for going above the call of duty and helping a woman and child in despair,” Carol Bdy posted.
The outpouring has overwhelmed the humble officer who believes he was just doing his job.
“I’m a little overwhelmed and shocked,” Atkinson told WUSA9. “And the reason why is it didn’t seem like a big deal to me because I see other officers do stuff like this all the time. It’s not a big deal.”
The mother and child are now with relatives.