GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - For many law enforcement officers, it's the smallest show of kindness that makes the biggest difference. One Gulfport police officer had to fight back tears as a young girl presented him with a new "partner" to keep him safe.
Officer Josh McConnell recounted the touching moment Tuesday in a Facebook post. Since making the post, McConnell's story has garnered dozens of likes, shares and encouraging comments.
McConnell said he was on patrol at Courthouse Pier on Highway 90 when a young girl approached him holding a teddy bear. What happened next could bring a smile to any law enforcement veteran.
"I turned and asked what I could do for her and she hands me her bear. I tried to give it back but she refused," McConnell wrote. "She looked up at me and said it was to keep me safe. I said thank you while trying to keep my voice from cracking. I put the bear on my passenger seat for her to see."
Not long after the encounter with his new friend, McConnell posted another picture with his new "buddy" riding shotgun in his patrol car.
McConnell said the girl's mother told him they have a law enforcement officer in the family, and she always hears friends and family members telling him to be safe. Now, McConnell has a guardian bear to ride around with and the memory of a young friend he surely will cherish forever.
McConnell said he didn't get the girl's name, but the mother did say they were from Texas.
"Just wish I could have spent a little more time to talk with the family and get a picture. When the call was over, they had already left the area," McConnell said in a text message Wednesday morning.