Two police officers in New Mexico were faced with a situation that years of formal training couldn’t have prepared them for. DUI or ‘driving under the influence’ is unfortunately fairly common among irresponsible drivers. Thankfully, the deputies knew exactly just what to do!
On February 8, 2016, police officers Roger Garcia and Sam Rodriguez from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department were on duty around midnight when they encountered a dad committing a DUI, his vehicle swerving in the wrong direction.
Judging by the way the car was going, the deputies suspected that its driver was inebriated. Their suspicions were confirmed when they pulled the car over – there in the driver’s seat, sat a man who was obviously drunk.
Worse, Jeffrey Salas, 24 years old, wasn’t just driving under the influence of alcohol ( DUI )- he was driving with three small children.
Seated at the back of his car were his kids: a 5-year-old, a 2-year-old, and an infant of 2 months The officers were even more horrified when they discovered that the youngest was in an unbuckled car seat.
Wanting to spare them from the shock, the officers kept the children from seeing the traumatic scene of their dad being arrested.
“We had to remove him from the kids’ view. The last thing we wanted to do was expose these kids to a negative law enforcement (encounter) with their father,” Rodriguez told KOAT.
When they asked the children about the last time they ate, the officers got a heartbreaking response.
“What hurt me the most is when we asked about the last time they ate, they couldn’t remember,” Garcia shared with CNN News.
Knowing that the poor youngsters were starving, Garcia immediately mixed some baby formula for the infant, while Rodriguez wrapped the baby in a warm, pink blanket that he got from his church and fed him.
“It was a bunch of cops in uniform trying to make a bottle on the side of the road. We had a cold water bottle and we’re trying to use our heater to warm up the water for him. I’ve always babysat since I was a kid, but I’ve never done it with a gun on my belt in the passenger seat of a patrol car with a rifle next to me,” Rodriguez said.
Three other police officers arrived to help them. One changed the baby’s dirty diaper, while the others bought McDonald’s for the other two kids to eat.
As hard as it was, the officers tried their best to maintain their composure while they were with taking care of the kids.
“It was really hard to be professional when we had such strong opinions about the morality of the situation. We really tried to keep it together for the welfare of the kids. We tried to be happy with them and give them a secure feeling,” Rodriguez said.
The three kids were taken away from the dad who committed DUI and later released to the Children, Youth and Families Department.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office felt so proud of their policemen, so they decided to share the story of their kind act on Facebook.
The post read:
“Thank you to Deputies R. Garcia and S. Rodriguez for caring for an infant that was inside a drunk driver’s vehicle!”
These two deputies went above and beyond the call of duty and took care of these children like they were their own, showing everyone what true service is all about.