Before LaVonte Dell was pulled over, it may have been just a regular Monday afternoon for him. He had been driving around Westland, Michigan, on that day in April 2016, going about his business and with his young daughter Lauren along for the ride.
Meanwhile, Joshua Scaglione, a cop from the City of Westland Police Department, was also in the area and on the beat. And, as it turned out, the two men were about to meet. Scaglione had spotted that Dell’s vehicle had tinted windows, and these were of concern to the officer.
Indeed, Michigan traffic law prohibits tinted windows that reflect 35 percent or more of light. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that Scaglione wanted to investigate whether Dell’s car was breaking this rule. As a result, while on his journey, Dell spotted the flashing lights that every driver dreads.
And while speaking to ABC News about the incident in April 2016, Dell revealed how he had felt at the moment he was being pulled over. He said, “When he had the lights… I did what pretty much everybody does when they get pulled over. My heart dropped, went to my stomach.”
As Dell had predicted, Scaglione had made the stop because of the father’s Impala’s unlawful windows. After coming around to Dell’s car, though, the cop had also noticed that Lauren was in the back without a car seat. And as a consequence, Dell was asked to exit his vehicle – something which really made him fear the worst.
Then Scaglione started to question Dell. However, instead of giving the driver a ticket, he listened thoughtfully. In fact, he even saw some common ground between the two of them. And from what happened next, it seems as if the officer’s heart went out to Dell and the reasoning behind his lack of a car seat.
That reasoning, moreover was heartbreaking. Specifically, Dell confessed that his little girl had grown out of her car seat and that he could not afford a new one for the toddler. It also appeared that Dell’s own emotions rose to the surface as he told his sad tale. As Scaglione would tell ABC News, the dad even “teared up a little.”
Then, after hearing Dell’s explanation, Scaglione had an idea. The officer would later explain to the Daily Mail, “I said to myself, ‘This is the perfect opportunity to help this guy.’” So, with a plan in mind, Scaglione asked Dell to follow him – not to the police station, however, but to Walmart.
There, with his own money, the compassionate cop bought Dell a car seat for his daughter. In an extra-special touch, Scaglione even picked out a pretty pink seat – Lauren’s favorite color. That also came complete with a butterfly motif.
And that heartwarming gesture would be recognized by a whole new audience when Dell turned to social media. He recounted the tale in a post on Facebook, where he additionally praised Scaglione for being a “good guy.” Dell further revealed that he had been trying to trace the officer who had done the good deed.
And at the end of his post, Dell commented that Scaglione had said, “What good would giving you a ticket do, besides putting you further in the hole [and] making it harder for you to come up?” Indeed, Scaglione had seemingly recognized that he needed to give the dad a way out – and not more debilitating debt.
At first, though, the City of Westland Police Department had no idea who had stepped in to help Dell. In fact, Scaglione hadn’t informed any of his fellow officers about the incident. And the police department seemed to understand why. In a post that it would later make on Facebook, it said, “It is clear that his sole purpose was to assist the driver, not to receive recognition.”
That post also commended Dell for coming forward with his story, not least because it had touched Scaglione’s colleagues. And once the caring cop’s identity had been revealed, the police department gave Dell the opportunity to thank his savior in person when the two men were reunited at the station.
While speaking to ABC News, however, Scaglione played down his role as a knight in shining armor. The humble officer instead claimed, according to the network’s report, that he was “just doing his job.” He added, “I related to [Dell’s story] – I related to the fact that I’d been in that situation before.”
Indeed, it seems that acknowledgment and appreciation were not the main motivations for Scaglione’s kind gift. And that was emphasized somewhat by the cop’s remarks to ABC News. Rather than seeking praise for what he had done for Dell, the officer simply requested that anybody affected by the story should “just pay it forward” through their own act of charity.
Whether Scaglione wanted the recognition or not, however, he would soon get it. That’s because, in July 2016, he and Dell were invited onto Steve Harvey’s daytime show to talk about their initial encounter. The pair sat together under a screen that read” The Power of Forgiveness”; Dell was in a suit, while Scaglione was wearing his uniform.
And this isn’t the only example of a police officer going above and beyond to help someone in need. In fact, in the same month as Dell and Scaglione’s first meeting, Huntington Beach Police Department’s Zach Pricer also hit the headlines for another very generous act.
Specifically, Officer Pricer momentarily distracted a homeless girl from her situation by playing hopscotch with her. But there was another reason for the game, too, as Pricer revealed when interviewed by ABC News in April 2016. “I had to check the welfare of the little girl, so I have to earn her trust and get her comfortable with me first,” he said.
And, like Scaglione, Pricer was also keen to downplay just how remarkable his actions were. Indeed, he would tell ABC News, “This is the kind of thing a lot of cops in communities across the country do every day.”
So, in an age of such division and tension between law enforcement and American citizens, it’s perhaps worth being reminded that there are indeed officers who are more than willing to go that extra mile. And Dell’s experience with Scaglione certainly proves that some cops do just that.