A Lake Wales Mom Lost Her Package, But Her Son Gained A New Ball and Glove
by James Coulter
Chamayne Brunson may have lost a package, but her son gained new baseball equipment. After reporting a missing package and recieving a friendly visit from some police officers, she received an extra surprise that very evening when those same officers arrived with a special gift for her son.
Last Sunday, Brunson and her son were taking pictures for Mother’s Day when she received a message that a package had been delivered to her apartment. When she arrived home, she was shocked to discover the package torn open with two items taken out of it.
Brunson reached out to Amazon, which provided her with a case number and assured her that her missing items would be replaced. She then called the Lake Wales Police Department, which sent out two police officers that evening to discuss her stolen items.
Officer Emmanuel Viera has been with the department for six years. He works as a K9 officer who performs patrol, backup, and responds to calls. He and his partner arrived on the scene to answer Brunson’s call.
While speaking with Brunson, Officer Viera noticed her son coming outside with a baseball and bat. As he was playing alone, Viera decided to let his partner speak with Brunson while he played with her son.
Officer Viera often interacts with children during cases. Sometimes he plays sports with them. Other times, he offers them a spare toy car he brings along in his trunk. Either way, he focuses on keeping the child occupied while his partner works the case, he said.
During their playtime, Officer Viera inquired the young boy about his ball game, asking if he participated in a team or played with other friends. He also offered him some pointers on how to improve his game. When the boy retrieved a baseball glove, he noticed it was too small for him.
“I wanted to do that so he could practice,” he said. “Maybe if he had some friends, he can play with him…He brought out his glove, and I saw it was too small for him. So I thought about it after I left. I wanted to get him a glove so he can play baseball and practice…and he was super excited about that.”
Brunson was pleasantly surprised by the overall interaction, especially by a police officer within the northwest Lake Wales area. Most officer interactions are not as cordial, so seeing the officer play with her son like that was a relief, she said.
“I loved seeing the smile on my son’s face,” she said. “He is not often that you do not see an officer come out, [and] it is very rare to see an officer interact with a child, it is a call being made, and the fact this was so minor, he got time to spend time with my son, and I would love to see that more because I am sure the kids are afraid of the police.”
Later that evening, she and her son heard a knock at their door. They opened it to discover the officers from the night before at their door with two new baseballs, a bat, and a practice baseball stand. The smile on her son’s face was ten times bigger than the day before, Brunson said.
More than simply giving her son gifts, the entire experience offered him a positive experience with law enforcement that, sadly, many children his age, especially children of color, rarely receive, she explained.
“They turned a bad day into a great day, it made all the difference in the world,” she said. “Something so small and so simple like that made a difference to my son, and that is really where I wanted to give them the recognition that they deserve because sometimes they get overlooked.”
Officer Viera felt proud to give back to a young child. Not only did Brunson’s son receive a new ball and glove, but he also gained better respect and appreciation for law enforcement, which is something very few young people these days have, Officer Viera said.
“To me, it was what it was all about,” he said. “Especially nowadays, it is trust issues between law enforcement and the public, and the kids like that outside who trusted me and whose mom trusted us with the call. He trusted me to play some baseball, and I could see how excited he was. He was innocent. He did not think anything bad about us, and that is how we like to keep it…and [to] show him that the Lake Wales Police Department is more about the community than anything else.”