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50 states, 50 police heroes: How cops made an impact in 2021

Law enforcement stepped up through acts of heroism – big and small – to create some good this year


By Police1 Staff

From giving brand-new shoes to a man in need to replacing a bike for a trusting teen who loaned his to a stranger, we’ve rounded up one act of police heroism from each of the 50 states – just a small sample of the excellent work LEOs do every day across the country.

Looking for more uplifting stories like these? Follow The Up-Beat – a series that aims to bring greater attention to police acts of heroism and kindness. Email your police hero stories to


Police chief applauds officer who comforted child victim of bloody machete attack

Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler used social media to recognize the work of Officer Justin Whitten on the department’s Facebook page for his conduct during the incident. “These are the men and women of law enforcement,” Tyler wrote. “Not perfect, always improving. You’re always invited to go into the pit after the lions. Come join us.” FULL STORY


Anchorage cop helps save box of mice sitting on a wall

“Officer Keating, who is clearly NOT the squeamish type, gave them some food, water, and secured them for safe transporting over to our friends at Anchorage Animal Care and Control,” the department wrote on Facebook.


Ariz. officers get elderly man home safe, help put away his groceries

Officers Phillips and Rosario were responding to a call from a concerned citizen about an elderly man who was sitting in his car in the scorching heat. When they arrived, the officers offered to drive the man home. “Well, but I have groceries,” the man said. “We can take those too,” an officer responds. FULL STORY


Quick-thinking rookie cop saves choking infant

Pottsville Police Officer Cody Hubbard, 23, responded to a call for a 3-week-old baby boy who was choking on anti-gas drops. The rescue was caught on Hubbard’s bodycam. “It was life-changing,” Hubbard, who has experienced the same problem with his daughter, said. FULL STORY


Deputies rescue man who became stranded on rock due to high tide

The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office received reports of an individual becoming trapped on a rock near White Rock Resort in Smith River. Witnesses said the man, who had been stuck for several hours, was periodically getting knocked off the rock by the surf. Deputy Lucero and Sergeant Ortega swam out to the man, eventually reaching him on the rock. FULL STORY


Colo. officer walks with woman with dementia until she’s ready to go home

Officer David Kaufman approached the woman, but she refused his assistance. Instead, Kaufman walked with her for “quite a long time” until she got tired and accepted a ride home. The encounter was caught on an officer’s body camera. FULL STORY


Conn. LEO donates kidney to complete stranger

Sgt. Chris Halstead makes his life’s mission to help people. In May, Halstead again gave part of himself to help someone – literally. In the video above, listen to what the kidney recipient had to say about Sgt. Halstead’s gift. FULL STORY


Police officers step up to replace late husband’s hat

After a 66-year-old woman lost her late husband’s Vietnam War Air Force veteran hat when her vehicle was stolen, Laurel police officers bought a duplicate hat for her.


Fla. officers break window to save man trapped inside burning car

A driver narrowly escaped with his life as his car was engulfed in flames. The horrifying incident was caught on body cam footage. In the video, four cops surround the SUV, its interior completely filled with white smoke. FULL STORY


Atlanta officer gives brand-new shoes to man in need

Officer S. Thomas had bought shoes for a barefoot homeless man she had encountered while on her shift. Thomas left to buy him shoes, but he was gone when she returned. Later, while Thomas was working an extra job, she saw a man who was barefoot. That’s when a passerby began filming as Thomas gave the shoes to the man. FULL STORY




Chicago cops help wounded officer celebrate son’s 11th birthday

After being shot in both legs, a Chicago police officer was unable to host the birthday party she had planned for her son. So, her fellow officers stepped up. Officers staged a motor parade for the 11-year-old to lift his spirits. The officers brought gifts and ran their sirens to celebrate. FULL STORY


Cop tends to memorial of woman killed in crash 20 years ago

An Indianapolis officer was praised for going above and beyond the call of duty after a passerby shared video of his act of kindness. The video shows Officer Jeff Stagg cleaning up the roadside memorial of a woman who was killed there 20 years ago by a drunk driver. FULL STORY


Twins, 9, donate thousands to police fund after cops save their lemonade stand

When someone stole their tip jar, Katelyn and Elias were devastated. Luckily, local first responders were in the mood for lemonade. FULL STORY


Kan. PD replaces bike for trusting teen who loaned his to a stranger

“This sweet trusting boy loaned a complete stranger his bicycle believing the stranger when he said he would return it. The teenager sat outside and waited for two hours for the stranger to return it. The teen’s hard-working father was having a difficult time replacing the teen’s mode of transportation. The officer who took the theft report contacted us and we were able to replace the bicycle. The boy was so excited he took off riding around the block,” the department wrote on Facebook. FULL STORY


Police track down kidnapping suspect, save 6-year-old

Officers found the suspect in 30 minutes thanks to tips from an eagle-eyed neighbor. FULL STORY


Sheriff: Deputy used ‘brute strength’ to rescue children from sinking truck

In the middle of the night, in a misty rain and fog, Deputy Daniel Haydel dove in a canal to punch out the window of a truck sinking in the water and pull a mother and her two children to safety, Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre said. FULL STORY


Maine cops help rescue goat from ocean after it fled veterinary hospital

The goat is doing well after his adventure and dramatic rescue at sea, veterinary staff said. FULL STORY


Md. cops fix roof for elderly couple scammed by contractor

A patrol squad took matters into their own hands after senior citizens on their beat lost $33,000. FULL STORY


Mass. cop, who is also a nurse, helps deliver healthy baby girl

Officer Ashley Baldwin, who is also a registered nurse, put her medical skills to good use when she was called to an expecting mother’s home. When she got there, Baldwin found the mother in advanced stages of labor. Baldwin used her nurse training to determine there was no time to waste – the baby was coming now. FULL STORY


After emotional traffic stop, Mich. officers set up TV for elderly driver

The man explained that he had bought the TV for his ill wife, but couldn’t figure out how to get it working. FULL STORY


State troopers’ ‘blood run’ saves life of mother after dangerous birth

When a hospital was short on blood supply, five state troopers jumped in to save the day. FULL STORY


Bodycam video shows police rescue 2 from flooded vehicle

“Officer Collier dove right in and begin to rescue citizens that were trapped in their vehicle when Hurricane Ida brought some serious flash flooding to our city,” the department wrote on Facebook.


Donated kidney from slain Mo. officer goes to another cop

Although the two officers never met, they “will forever be connected,” police said. FULL STORY


Police captain rescues choking woman

The department awarded Capt. Brett Petty with a Lifesaving Award for saving the woman. “Brett has always been a person and an officer you would expect to step up and help anyone in need, because that is his character,” Helena Police Department Chief Steve Hagen said.



Sergeant Derrick Hosick receiving an honor from Chief Bruce Lang.

Courtesy photo

Officer recognized for pet-saving effort in house fire

“Sergeant Derrick Hosick’s quick thinking under stress worked flawlessly. He retrieved his gas mask from his patrol vehicle, which would allow Hosick to breathe inside the residence. Sergeant Hosick is a K-9 handler and knows first-hand that pets are not just animals ... but a part of the family. Hosick put on the gas mask and went into the residence, and was able to locate the dog, hiding underneath a bed,” Beatrice Police Chief Bruce Lang said.


Las Vegas police rescue 3 dogs from hot car in parking lot

Las Vegas police are using the video to remind dog owners not to leave their dogs in a hot car. It was 96 degrees at the time of the incident.

New Hampshire

NH State Police rescue owl from road

The owl, who was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center, had apparently suffered a concussion, according to police.

New Jersey

Cop on lunch break saves choking girl, 10, with Heimlich

Det. Richard Jupinka was in the right place at the right time. FULL STORY

New Mexico


Middle school student Grace Holguin, 14, on her special needs trike, and her sisters Eve, 9, and Sophia, 10.

Photo/Bethany Freudenthal of Sun-News via MCT

LEO helps recover stolen adaptive tricycle for girl with special needs

A New Mexico marshal is being praised for going above and beyond to help a family in need. FULL STORY

New York

NYPD cop sprints through Times Square with 4-year-old shooting victim

“This little girl was so strong,” said Officer Alyssa Vogel, who carried the child to safety. FULL STORY

North Carolina

NC troopers take stranded elderly woman to lunch

A pair of troopers went above and beyond to help a woman who ran out of gas along the interstate. FULL STORY

North Dakota


Officer McGovern and Officer Earl got a call about a goose with a fishing line around its leg.

Courtesy photo

Police officers rescue goose caught in fishing line

With help from another passerby, the officers removed the line and released the goose back into a pond.



Columbus police officer Brian Wilson holds 2-year-old Carmella Lopez at their reunion upon Lopez’s return home from the hospital.

Photo/The Columbus Dispatch via MCT

Off-duty LEO saves girl, 2, from drowning

Mary Giedeman screamed for help as loud as she could, over and over. An off-duty cop, five houses down, heard her. FULL STORY


Police officers save dog from Lake Hefner

“According to the owner, ‘Dennis’ had been missing for a week when he was found swimming in the middle of the lake, but was struggling to keep his head above water,” the department wrote on Facebook. “Sgt. Parsons and Sgt. Sanchez to the rescue!”


Troopers go above and beyond to help driver in need

“One of the troopers stopped by the local auto parts store to get a part that was needed to fix the truck and get him back on the road. This is definitely not something that OSP would do, but the driver shared his sense of urgency since the truck was transporting a load of fruit worth $150K which would have spoiled if not quickly transported,” the department wrote on Facebook.


Pa. cops rescue unconscious man from burning building

The three officers ran into the building, thick with smoke, before finding a man on the floor. FULL STORY

Rhode Island

Officer recognized for saving baby inside stolen car

A 7-month-old baby was inside of a car when it was stolen out of a parking lot. Providence Patrolman David Impagliazzo started searching for the car. Less than an hour later, Impagliazzo found the car in the parking lot of an apartment complex. The uninjured infant was found inside of the car.

South Carolina

Deputies show support for fallen officer’s daughter at graduation

Karlee Burdette was just 2 years old when her dad died in the line of duty. More than 30 deputies supported her while she gave her valedictorian speech. FULL STORY

South Dakota


Photo/Pennington County Sheriff’s Office

Search and rescue team dog leads police to missing SD teenager

“Search dog ‘Tango’ was deployed from the area the teen was last seen and was able to lead searchers to the missing teen, who was found safe and unharmed and reunited with family,” the department wrote on Facebook.


Tenn. police officer sprints into exploding home, rescues woman

“Timing was very much on my side that day,” said Cpl. Allan Ervin. FULL STORY


Deputy helps find 3 children lost deep in the forest

The kids, aged seven and younger, said that their parents had told them to stay put if they ever got lost. FULL STORY


Utah police officer replaces boy’s stolen bike on his own dime

Officer Dan Johnson said he knew exactly how the boy was feeling, having had a bike stolen as a kid himself. FULL STORY


Police comfort dog gets his own book

The book follows Williston Officer Matthew Cohen and K-9 Duke through a typical day while showing his skills.


Va. LEO single-handedly lifts car off trapped woman

Through “sheer will and determination” the deputy was able to physically lift the vehicle. FULL STORY


Police officer details rescue of 2 boys who were stuck in drainage pipe

The boys, 11 and 10, were playing in a storm pond when they got sucked into a drainpipe and dragged off by the current. Officers Travis Tilford and Lee Price showed up and leaped into action.

West Virginia

Officers aid in rescue efforts during flooding

“This is a good reminder of how quickly situations can change during a flood,” said West Virginia University Police Capt. Sherry St. Clair. “We are thankful the situation was resolved without any injuries. However, University Police reminds our campus community that six inches of water is enough to reach the bottom of most passenger cars, which can flood the exhaust and leave occupants immobile and at risk.”


Officer hailed as hero for saving elderly man from burning home

Port Washington Police Officer Tony Becker was just down the street at a nearby police station when he heard an explosion. When Becker arrived at the home, it was in flames and a woman told him her husband was still inside.


Officer hailed as hero for saving woman’s life

“Our dispatch center received a call from a woman who was choking on a piece of food and couldn’t breathe. Officer Gomez responded to help and arrived on scene in approximately two minutes. He quickly used first aid techniques to help the woman and she was able to dislodge the food item and breathe normally again,” the department wrote on Facebook.