Police Officers Aim to Ease Tensions Within Their Community

July 13th 2016

Aimee Kuvadia

A random act of kindness by Pittsburgh-area police officers is garnering major props on Facebook.

Officer Chuck Thomas of the Homestead, Pennsylvania, police department took action after a couple at an Eat n' Park diner asked to be seated away from his table, where he was dining with three other cops.

"I looked over at him and said, 'You don't have to worry about it. We won't hurt you,'" Thomas told ABC News. "He said, 'No, I'm good. I don't want to sit there.'"

Thomas responded by paying the couple's bill of $28.58 and leaving a generous tip for the server, ABC News reports.

Thomas jotted this note on the receipt:

"Sir, your dinner was paid for by the police officers that you didn't want to sit next to. Thank you for your support. I left a $10 tip too."

Police-civilian tensions are at an all-time high after a sniper killed five police officers at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Dallas last Thursday. Earlier that week, two black men were shot and killed by cops in separate incidents in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota.

The officers' small act of generosity had huge implications — especially coming the day after the Dallas shooting. "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," Thomas told ABC News.

Thomas posted a photo of the receipt on his Facebook page; it has collected more than 2,000 likes and 760 shares.

The server informed Thomas that the couple was initially taken aback by Thomas' note, but upon realizing the officers had paid for their meal, they had a laugh.

A growing number of police departments across the country are looking for ways to connect with civilians, and vice versa.

In Seattle, a campaign was launched by NBC's local affiliate King 5 asking officers and civilians to give suggestions for how to improve relations between the two groups. Respondents wrote their thoughts on large pieces of cardboard.

Seattle resident Mercedes Reed, 27, wrote: "Let them follow your orders before you grab your gun."