EDITORIAL: A police officer's compassionate act

The York Dispatch
  • Rehabbed eagle finds a new home in Tennessee.
  • Covenant House will support homeless youth.

Thumbs Up: To Northern York County Regional Police Officer Andrew Shaffer, a rookie officer still in his probationary period who made news by completing a simple, compassionate act.

Northern Regional Officer Andrew Shaffer
(Photo courtesy nycrpd.org)

During his 12-hour shift last July he and a medical crew were dispatched to a home where an elderly man collapsed while mowing the lawn. He died of a heart attack in his yard, and Shaffer, a West York graduate, had to break the news to the family.

After he completed his shift, Shaffer returned to the family’s home, offered his condolences again, and finished mowing the lawn. He intended to keep his act of kindness to himself, but the family alerted the coroner’s office, which contacted Chief Mark Bentzel.

"No one told him to go and do it, and he didn't tell anyone he did it," Bentzel said. "He just went and did it ... and he expected nothing in return."

Chief: Officer took initiative to mow Dover widow's lawn

But what he got was a well-deserved commendation from the department.

"We work hard trying to find good people to hire, and I think what this shows is we still have good, quality applicants out there who really want to be in this job for the right reasons," Bentzel said.

Shaffer has received two other letters of praise from the community in the short time he’s been an officer.

We’re betting he makes it through his probation.

Thumbs Up: To certified raptor rehabilitator Wendy Ebersole Looker for the work she did to save an injured bald eagle and securing a permanent home for the bird of prey.

Looker took in the immature female eagle Aug. 20 after it had been injured in Franklin County, most likely by an illegal leg-hold trap, she said. The eagle was starving and dehydrated.

Veterinarian Ann Pettigrew, left, tends to an injured female juvenile eagle while state-certified wildlife rehabilitator Wendy Ebersole Looker assists by securing the raptor at Leader Heights Animal Hospital in Spry, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. Looker says that the eagle, found Saturday, had been injured, most likely by a trap. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Foot injuries suffered by the roughly 3-month-old bird prohibit her from ever being released into the wild, where she would almost certainly starve to death and be unable to defend herself against other eagles, according to Looker.

She enlisted the help of Leader Heights Animal Hospital, which removed dead skin and bone from the eagle’s foot, eventually removing a talon from each foot.

Injured eagle has new home in Tenn., near Dollywood

Now in restored health, the eagle will be taken in by the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where it could serve as an exhibit bird used in educational programs. It could also contribute to the foundation’s captive breeding program.

Looker is the founder of Rehabitat Inc., which is a nonprofit organization caring for injured or orphaned birds of prey.

Her work is truly a labor of love.

Thumbs Up: To Covenant House Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia-based organization that aids runaway, homeless and trafficked youth. It is planning to set up a walk-in center in York City.

Covenant House of Pennsylvania

Terry Clark, the county's Children, Youth and Families director, introduced the plan to county commissioners. He said Covenant House will primarily link homeless youth to other resources throughout the county to ensure they receive adequate shelter, nourishment and medical care.

It will be housed in a vacant building that was donated to Bell Socialization Services.

Organization helping homeless youth coming to York City

According to its website, Covenant House aspires to serve youth "with unconditional love and absolute respect" by focusing on building the seven C's: competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.

President Commissioner Susan Byrnes called the program "a big win for the county."