Kind act by officer goes long way for Dunkirk first-graders
Serving up smiles
Police officers of all kind look for all opportunities they can to have positive interactions with their local communities — especially if those community members are children.
Lt. Mark Gruber of the Dunkirk Police Department had that opportunity at School No. 3 in Dunkirk.
On June 10, Dunkirk teacher Amanda Kulig took her first-grade students outside for a period of the day. As the students were enjoying the fresh air, they noticed an officer driving by. In excitement, the students waved at the officer driving by, and didn’t expect anything in return.
Gruber, however, gave them much more than they expected.
“I was heading down Main Street and looked over and saw the class outside waving,” Gruber said. “That in itself is always a nice thing for us to see, so I just waved back and turned down Seventh Street. I didn’t have anything going on for calls, so I turned around and turned the lights on and the kids came over and spent a few minutes visiting with each other. They’re a super group of kids that’s for sure.”
Gruber not only allowed each student to get a close-up look at his car, but he also let the students take pictures in the front seat. According to Emily Cole, a kindergarten teacher at School No. 3, Lt. Gruber’s act of kindness also brightened the day of all of Kulig’s students and colleagues.
“I was really touched by this act of service,” Cole said.
The experience touched more than the students and staff at School No. 3 though, as Gruber said the experience was incredibly enriching to him too, as community interaction is one part of Gruber’s job, he does not take for granted.
“I’m sure I got more out of it than they did, “ Gruber said. “Anytime we can positively interact with the community, especially school-age students, we like to do it. They were a good group of well-mannered kids. It just kind of brightens your day.”
Cole said when she stopped into Kulig’s classroom later in the day, the students were still glowing about the experience they had with the police officer. The staff of School No. 3 felt that Gruber went above and beyond the call of duty. For Gruber, it’s an opportunity that he loves capitalizing on when he can.
“I’m not sure exactly how frequently this happens but the easy answer is we do it as much as we can do it,” Gruber said. “At that time I didn’t have anything to respond to and the kids happened to be outside, and we just caught them outside. I was in the right place at the right time.”