What is a policeman’s job? Chasing robbers? Catching serial killers like in all the cop shows? Sometimes, a policeman’s job has very little to do with car chases and handcuffs and a lot to do with spaghetti Bolognese.

That is what police officers Paul Duchesne and Jeremy Sikten discovered when they were called for a wellness check on a Saturday night.

A woman had called and told dispatch that she had seen an ambulance take away her neighbor halfway through the afternoon, but all the lights in the house were still on.

The woman was sure the neighbor’s family was away, and that the children were with their grandmother for the weekend, and she was very worried that someone might have broken in.

Officer Paul knocked on the door and said: “Police! Please open the door!”

There was a long, long silence then a voice said, “Are you really the police?”

“Yes!” Officer Paul said. “We were called by a neighbor to check that everything was alright. Please open the door.”

The voice, which sounded younger by the minute said, “How do I know you’re REALLY the police? Mom said don’t open the door to strangers.”

Officer Jeremy, who was the father of four kids said, “We have badges. I’m Jeremy, and my partner is Paul. Can you please call the adult who is looking after you?”

There was an even longer silence, then the voice said, “We don’t have an adult. The ambulance took mommy away.”

“We?” Paul said to Jeremy. “There’s more than one kid?”

The police are an essential part of the community.
“Please open the door,” Jeremy said. “Look, I’m holding up my badge to the peephole.”

“I’m too short!” the voice on the other side said. “I can’t reach the peephole without a bench! Hold on!” There were sounds of little feet running, then a strange scraping sound.

“I’m looking!” the voice said, so Jeremy held up his badge again. “Ok, I’m opening the door…”

Another scraping sound told the officers the kid had dragged the bench out of the way, then the door opened cautiously. A six-year-old was standing there in jeans and a dirty T-shirt.

“Hi,” Paul said gently and hunkered down to be on the kid’s level. “I’m Paul. What’s your name?”

“I’m Anna,” she said. “Who’s that?” The kid pointed a sticky finger at Jeremy.

“That’s my partner. He’s a police officer too. His name is Jeremy. So tell me, Anna, how come you’re alone?”

“I’m not alone!” Anna said scornfully.”Brady and Jolena are with me.”

“How old are Brady and Jolena?” asked Jeremy gently.

“Brady is three, and Jolena is two,” Anna said. “I’m the oldest!”

“The neighbor said your mom was taken to the hospital,” Paul said. “Where’s your daddy?”

“Daddy works on a rig,” Anna explained. “But he only comes back next month.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be with your grandmother?” asked Paul, remembering what the neighbor had said.

“She brought us back this morning,” Anna said. “And mom was so happy to see us! But then she fell and hurt herself…” Anna’s little lips started trembling and her eyes filled with tears. “Brady and Jolena are hungry, so I gave them peanut butter,” she said. “But we are so hungry!”

Jeremy and Paul looked at each other. “Didn’t the paramedics — the ambulance guys — know you were here?” Paul asked. “They just left you here?”

“After mommy fell, I called 911, and left the door open,” Anne said. “Then I sat by mommy but she was really quiet and wouldn’t open her eyes. Then these men came, and we hid in the pantry…”

“You hid from the paramedics’” Jeremy asked. “But why, Anne? They would have sent someone to look after you!”

Anne shrugged and looked away. “This one little girl in my class?” she whispered. “Her mommy was sick, and they took her away and they never let her see her mommy again.”

“That is not going to happen,” Paul said firmly. “We will call your grandmother and she’ll take care of you.”

Anne looked relieved. “Do you think you can make us some food?” she asked. “I’m so hungry!”

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