A Branson police officer helping a stranded motorist on a sweltering day has brought a positive spotlight to the community.
It started with a Facebook post from a local realtor and insurance agent.
Lance Mayfield was driving in Branson when he noticed in a nearby parking lot a man trying to change a tire in the over 95 degree heat. A Branson police officer, Officer Abe Jones, had stopped and was helping the man change the tire.
“Good people are over the place in no matter the profession,” Mayfield wrote in his Facebook post. “On a 90 plus degree day this Branson, Mo officer is lending a helping hand. A Tip of the Hat to you sir…!”
Mayfield’s post began to be shared in various Facebook groups connected to Branson and Table Rock Lake. It was in one of the Table Rock Lake groups that a reporter for KSDK in St. Louis saw the photo, and brought it to their news team. They featured Jones in the “Made my morning” segment of their morning show, where one of the anchors pointed out that Jones was wearing his bulletproof vest, which made a hot day even hotter to him.
Jones told Branson Tri-Lakes News he wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary for a member of the Branson Police Department.
“I was just on patrol around the Branson RecPlex and saw this guy laying on the pavement, and when I came back around he was still there,” Jones said. “I don’t know the temperature, but it was hot. I knew that guy had to be hot.”
Jones said that when he walked over, the guy’s tire was shredded, and obviously had been on the truck for a significant amount of time.
“He was fighting with his jack while laying on the pavement,” Jones said. “It took me a bit. The [lugs] were rusted on there tight. I had trouble getting the tire off. It was so hot that in-between changing tires, just putting the lug nuts on the pavement, they were so hot it hurt to pick them up.”
Jones said that the man was shocked when he asked what he owed for the help and was told that it was just part of a day’s work for a Branson officer.
“This is just police service,” Jones said. “It’s something scores of officers here do a lot. I certainly didn’t know anyone took a photo of me and made a big deal of it. But it was pretty cool, they were so positive.”
Jones said that his fellow officers are just like him.
“We feel called to serve,” Jones said. “That’s just one way to do it. To me, as a police officer, it’s a given. This is part of being a cop. There’s lots of other officers who are like minded.”
Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews praised Jones and the department
“He is a great family man, good Christian, and a role model,” Matthews said. “He’s one of our field training officers and he’s a role model within the department. Just an asset to the department.
“That story captured Abe’s character, but I get stories like that of Abe that don’t make the newspaper. I get a call or a note. And while I know this is focused on the good stuff that was brought about by Abe, we have officers that do that kind of kindness from the bottom of their heart all the time.”
Matthews said they get weekly emails and notes from citizens who thank the department for an officer going “above and beyond what is expected.”
The chief said that it’s the culture of the department.
“That’s one of the things that we hire for but is hard to train,” Matthews said. “You hire for character, and then you train for tasks. We look in a person for things [like character] on the front end and then they come through in their daily work. It’s also not just our sworn staff that does that, we get accolades from our professional staff as well.”
Matthews said it’s all about the department wanting to make the community a better place.
“Oftentimes we see the ugly in the news,” Matthews said. “Our officers do experience ugly, but not to the degree other people do. Our officers truly go out of their way to help the citizens or visitors on each and every call that they receive. That’s just the culture within the department.”
Officer Jones said he’s grateful for the positive attention, but in the end, it’s really nothing out of the ordinary.
“I appreciate [the attention], it’s pretty cool,” Jones said, “But that’s just what I feel like we’re supposed to do.”