Police officers are sworn to protect even the smallest among us — and that includes turtles! That’s the scene Carolyn B. R. Hammett and her family stumbled upon one stormy afternoon in Greenbelt, Maryland. Despite the terrible weather and the fact that the policewoman had no umbrella, she had an ear-to-ear grin.
At first, Hammett thought the woman was there to alert drivers of flooding — several major storms had recently dumped massive amounts of water in the area. As it turns out, the policewoman was protecting a turtle who had unwisely decided to rest in the middle of the street. Visibility was poor because of the heavy rain, so the little green guy would almost certainly have been run over had it not been for his guardian angel.
Hammett’s daughter, Honora, snapped this photo of the officer standing in the road. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Carolyn B. R. Hammett)
“I couldn’t believe that she was standing there guarding that turtle in all that rain,” Hammett told The Dodo. “Not many people would do that, regardless of their occupation. She was serving and protecting in every sense of the word.”
Hammett’s husband got out of the car to bring the woman an umbrella. The officer, whose name is Sharnise Hawkins-Graham, explained that she was on her way home when she got a call about the defenseless turtle. But because they were dealing with a snapping turtle — whose powerful bite and sharp claws can seriously injure a human — Hawkins-Graham had to wait for animal control to arrive.
(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Carolyn B. R. Hammett)
Determined to give the soaking-wet Hawkins-Graham a little rain relief, Hammett returned home to grab some shovels; they were going to move the turtle themselves. We’ll never know why the turtle crossed the road, but we do know that he (or she) made it safely to the other side thanks to Hawkins-Graham and the Hammetts.
“The officer thanked us and we thanked her and we all went on our way,” Hammett said. “She was smiling a big broad smile the entire time and she never seemed to care that she was drenched completely through. She was delightful, inspirational, kind, all the things that you think a police officer should be.”
A passerby who witnessed the group’s act of kindness wrote in to the Greenbelt News Review with her own heartwarming account. “It was nice to see people taking the time and helping the turtle,” Kathryn Beard said. “Although the turtle was large, it would have been either run over or possibly injured while getting swept away by the rain. Thanks, turtle rescuers!”
Earlier this year, Hawkins-Graham was named “Officer of the Year” by the Greenbelt Police Department, a title we wholeheartedly believe she deserves. By going above and beyond to save a little snapper, Officer Hawkins-Graham reminds us of the importance of caring for others.