"But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Luke 6:27-28
Instead of responding with anger after a couple refused to sit next to him and his fellow officers at a local diner, a Pennsylvania police officer reacted with kindness and picked up the tab.
According to local news channel WTAE, Officer Chuck Thomas of the Homestead Police Department and three other officers sat down for dinner at the Eat n' Park restaurant last Friday, the day after a shooter in Dallas, angered by policing practices, killed five police officers and injured 11 other people.
"A male and female were going to be seated across from us, and he said, 'I don't want to sit there,'" Thomas told ABC News, "which drew my attention, and we made eye contact, and his body language just told me that he wanted nothing to do with police."
"I looked over at him and said, 'You don't have to worry about it. We won't hurt you,'" Thomas said. "He said, 'No, I'm good. I don't want to sit there.'"
A server at the Eat n' Park, Jesse Meyers, elaborated on the officer's story, telling WTAE, "A table goes to sit down, and the guy looks over at one of the police officers and was like, 'Nah, I don't want to sit here.' So they got moved completely opposite, away from the police officers."
Officer Thomas revealed that while he and his fellow officers usually brush off such behavior, he felt compelled to respond with kindness and compassion after the tragic events of the previous day.
Thus, Thomas picked up the couple's check and scribbled a message on the receipt, expaliing that he paid for their dinner and thanked them for their support. He also left a $10 tip.
"What it really came down to was that, ultimately, I just wanted to let them know that we've got to better the relationship between police and the community," he said.
"The day after Dallas, it was tight. You could feel the tension in the air," Thomas added. "A lot of people did come up to us and thank us and shook hands and spoke of their sorrow. This was the only negative experience of the day."
He told the Charlotte Observer he wanted the couple to know that even if they had negative experiences with police in the past, he was there to protect them and not hurt them.
"Ultimately, we're here for you," he said. "This us-against-them mentality that's out here - we've got to change that. We've got to break that."
The officer said that he paid the tab while he was on his way out and that the server later told him the couple was "thrown back by it" and ended up "chuckling" and "smiling."