FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich.— Each week, Grand Rapids Harley Davidson and West Michigan’s Most Wanted recognize a member of law enforcement or the military that go above and beyond the call of duty to help the people in the community they serve. This week it’s not just one officer, but two in Fruitport Township: Officer James Hodges and Jason Pavlige.
The pair took actions beyond normal protocol to help a family in need following a traffic stop about a month ago. Their primary goal was to make sure a baby girl was safe during future travels. They went above and beyond their duties taking thoughtful measures to protect a 10-month-old child who’s family could not afford and did not have a car seat.
“They’re not too cheap, but money wasn’t an option. You know our main concern was the safety of the child,” said Officer Pavlige.
The officer’s got a call from a worker at McDonald’s, concerned for the child’s safety after the family came through to pick up some late night food off Sherman Boulevard.
“I saw a minor traffic violation, and stopped the car, and when I approached the vehicle the child was in the mom’s arms in the passenger seat” said Pavlige.
Officer Pavlige and Officer Hodges were alarmed that a 10-month-old baby was not safely secure, but rather just sitting freely on a parent’s lap. They say that’s a serious violation.
“I don’t ever want to see a child not in a car seat, especially when the mother is holding the child, it’s not something we want to see every day,” said Pavlige.
After talking with the mother and father, it was clear they didn’t have the means to buy one.
“I asked them about family in the area, no family, no friends, no co-workers, and no way to get a hold of somebody to bring a car seat to them,” said Pavlige.
The officers could not let the family leave with the baby in the car like that. The officers could ticket them, or called Child Protective Services, but they had a better idea.
“Officer Hodges drove to Wal-Mart and purchased a car seat with our money, we brought it back and installed the car seat for the family and advised them this is your car seat make sure this child is always in this car seat, and that was the end of it,” said Pavlige.
They didn’t skimp on the car seat either, getting the best one available.
“I have two kids so what I would want my kids the type of car seat it is what we bought the family, I don’t want to put my child in a no-name brand car seat that’s not very safe, and the main goal is the safety of the child,” said Pavlige.
Hodges and Pavlige took a role on that we don’t always associate with the duties of a cop.
“That’s what our job kind of entails, random acts of kindness, we went from that call to the next call and it’s just what we do,” said Pavlige.
They’ll both tell you it was just another day at the office.
"This is why you become a police officer or a firefighter or a paramedic, because you're here to help people, whether it's buy them a car seat or just by talking to them. We're here to help and that incident, you know, we solved it. That was our main goal. We got that incident solved and we moved on to the next one,” said Pavlige.
Wal-Mart employee who helped the officer pick out a car seat, is the one who alerted Fruitport Public Safety Director of their kind act. They were given an award and recognized for helping out the family.