CORAL SPRINGS, FL – After being involved in a three-car accident this week in Coral Springs, Janet Balestriero spotted something that touched her heart: a police officer talking to a young boy whose car was in the crash.

From what she saw, it was more than just a simple discussion.

With the tense cleanup of the crash happening around them, the officer sat calmly with the child on a street curb, chatting about his favorite Disney character, a small firetruck toy standing between them.

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They seemed locked in conversation.

So Balestriero snapped a photo of the moment and posted it on Coral Springs Police Department’s Facebook page.

“It was an act of kindness,” Balestriero said. “I try to find a little kindness every day in a world that’s gone crazy.”

Her photo has been liked, shared, and commented on close to 1,000 times.

The officer in the photo is Bryan Dougherty, who has been with the department since 2016 and is a member of the department’s SWAT team.

Coral Springs Police Chief Clyde Parry said on Facebook: “So proud of our officers. Things like this happen often, but are rarely reported on.”

Balestriero, who grew up in Coral Springs and now lives in Pompano Beach, said she was heading home from a doctor’s appointment when she got entangled in the crash at the intersection of University Drive and Riverside Drive on Tuesday afternoon.

No one was seriously hurt, she said.

As she waited for her turn to speak with an officer, Balestriero spotted Dougherty talking to the boy as his parent was dealing with the accident.

Balestriero said her intention in posting the photo was for others to see the compassionate side of police officers at a time when police departments around the nation are under scrutiny following the killing of George Floyd.

She’s going to do more to honor Dougherty.

Balestriero is involved in the Kindness Rock Project, which encourages people to paint messages on rocks and leave them for others to find and collect. Someone in her group plans to paint a rock with the image of a Disney character and Dougherty’s badge number and leave it at the Coral Springs Police Department.

“A single act of kindness can have a ripple effect,” she said. “We have to see the kindness in the world.”


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