Car seats are a touchy subject for most parents, but imagine if you couldn’t afford one at all? That was reality for one Texas family before a generous gift from a couple of cops changed their lives.
Officers Justin Gower and Cale Hawkins were on patrol in Cedar Park, Texas, when they stopped a truck for a malfunctioning tail light and noticed three small kids in the backseat with no car seats. The kids were all toddlers — ages one, three, and four — and they didn’t have the proper seats simply because their family can’t afford them.
The officers told KXAN they’ve stopped the father for traffic violations before and know he struggles to save money for his family. That’s why they decided not to issue him any tickets. Said Officer Gower, “They’re trying to get things going, they’re going in the right direction, and to issue them three citations for each child, would just devastate them.”
Instead of issuing citations, the officers decided to do something to help. They pooled their money together with some others on the force and purchased three brand new car seats for the kids.
The family doesn’t want to be identified, but told KXAN they really needed the seats and they feel blessed by the officers’ generous gift. Officer Hawkins says there’s no thanks needed — it was just about figuring out “the fastest path to helping them.”
In our endless debates about forward-facing or rear-facing, chest clip placement, and which brands are the best, it’s easy to forget that for some people just having a car seat at all is a dream come true. These officers did what all of us should strive to do, which is find a way to support struggling parents instead of punishing them or sitting back in judgment.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the United States, but the CDC reports car seats can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for babies and 54 percent for toddlers. They’re a vitally important piece of baby gear, but they also come with a high price tag. Families who are living paycheck to paycheck or struggling to find work often have a hard time affording them.
Many states have programs in place to help low-income families get seats for free or at a reduced cost, but not everyone is aware of those programs. Hopefully the officers’ generosity will inspire others to donate seats to struggling families or encourage those families to seek out ways to get what they need. No kid should have to ride without the proper safety gear just because their family is having a hard time.