A man was taking his 5-year-old niece home from the hospital after just receiving her daily dose of chemotherapy, and he caught the attention of a St. Charles County cop, who was watching for moving vehicle violations. He was pulled over, and the situation quickly became unnerving for the uncle and the little girl, when the cop began acting oddly in his patrol vehicle. That’s when the driver sent a text message to his wife she would never forget.
Matthew Manley makes the emotionally exhausting trip every day with his sick little niece, who is struggling with cancer. With each day being filled with caring for this child and helping her to get better, other tasks in life have fallen through the cracks. One such errand he hadn’t gotten around to was transferring his plates from his previous vehicle to his current ride, which he became painfully aware of when he passed by a St. Louis area cop standing watch for motorists like him.
Manley told KTVI that he felt nervous as soon as he saw the officer, knowing that he was likely to be pulled over because of the plates. Sure enough, the patrol car came up behind him with lights flashing. Manley anxiously waited and watched as the cop, Officer Shawn Birdsong, began digging around in his car, which gave the man a very uneasy feeling. He sent a message to his wife, Dana Manley, expressing his fear in that moment.
“He texted me scared to death,” Dana told the news station about her husband’s reaction to not having any clue about what the cop was up to.
Birdsong eventually emerged from his patrol car holding a backpack from the trunk of his vehicle, and he handed it to Manley to give to the sick little girl. There was a care package of sorts inside the backpack, containing stuffed animals, art supplies, and clothing, along with a handwritten note the officer had slipped in there.
“From Officer Shawn: Hope you get to feeling better real soon,” the cop’s personal touch said, along with a smiley face.
Another written note was handed to Manley — a ticket for his plate problem, which the driver and his wife were not upset about. “It was his job to give us a ticket. He did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Dana wrote in a praising post on Facebook, sharing the unexpected touching gesture from Officer Birdsong. “He just made this little girl’s day a little better, and that’s what matters.” But the officer’s kindness to the Manley’s and their niece didn’t end with the ticket.
After learning of Dana’s post about him on Facebook, the cop called to family to say thank you for her kind words, and letting the people in St. Louis know that all cops don’t deserve the bad reputation many in the city have given them. He also wanted to follow up on how their precious niece was feeling, and he has since called back three to four more times since then, for the same caring reason.
His simple effort in picking up the phone to show that he’s thinking about this little girl in the middle of a huge fight for her health, has moved Dana to tears. “Cops are doing their jobs, but they’re people too,” Dana said. “I don’t think people realize that anymore.”
With all the kind cop stories getting the much-needed attention to change the mindset society has about police, this one is particularly special since it came out of the St. Louis area — the epicenter of hate for law enforcement that ignited the movement. It’s time to give credit where it’s due, and that’s to all the brave men and women who suit up every day to make a difference in their communities, unlike the people who complain and them.