Ridge York spotted an elderly couple in the back of a Portland police cruiser on Washington Avenue Wednesday afternoon and wondered what they must have done to run afoul of the law.

But then he saw the Metro bus pull up, and the officer help the couple into the bus with their cart full of groceries. 

“I then realized that the police officer was just being nice because it is so cold outside & these folks were very elderly and she wanted to take care of them,” York said in a comment he posted to the WGME Facebook site. “I thought that was a really nice gesture.”

Apparently many people agreed and by Thursday afternoon, more than 17,500 users of the social networking site had indicated that they liked his comment.

“I was shocked it took off like it did on (Facebook) but glad to see the officer received so many kudos! It was well deserved,” York said later.

The officer, Jessica Googins, said any of her fellow officers would have helped out in a similar way.

“They were probably 70 and they were freezing,” she said. It never got above 8 degree in Portland Wednesday. “They said they shouldn’t have come out. It was too cold. The woman was almost in tears.”

Googins, who patrols North Deering, found them waiting for the bus in the roadway, so they didn’t have to negotiate the snowbank with the cart of supplies they received at the First Baptist Church food pantry at the corner of Washington Avenue and Canco Road.

Googins offered to give them a ride home but couldn’t get the grocery cart into the cruiser and still have room for the couple. They spent 20 minutes waiting for the bus inside the cruiser, with the man – born and raised in Portland — showing pictures he had in his wallet of when he was younger, she said.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said he was not surprised Googins reached out to help the couple, and says similar acts of officer kindness happen every day but don’t get the exposure.

“You hire good people and the common-sense approach is to go the extra mile and take care of somebody,” Sauschuck said. “That’s why they got into this line of work.”

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com