The public’s connection with police officers has become a heated topic in recent months. However, there are still stories of the bravery of the men and women who wear the badge. Despite the fact that the story is not new, it restores trust in the existence of good people.
The incident occurred in 2014. The occasion was the wedding of Shammarah Hamidah, a lovely young woman of 20 years. Apart from her family, Joe Barca, a 63-year-old New York police captain, was a special guest of honor for her wedding.
He wasn’t a family member or a close friend. So, why did the Hamidahs hold this police officer in such high regard?
A Connection Spanning Two Decades
Well, the story of the connection between the two started on December 26th, 1993 – twenty years before the wedding date. Shammarah was only 2 months old at the time. Sergeant Joe (he wasn’t a captain then) was patrolling a couple of blocks away from the Hamidah house. That’s when he received a radio call stating that a baby apparently not breathing.
Barca was the quickest police officer to turn up to help Shammarah’s panicking and frightened parents. When he took up Shammarah in her arms, the police officer recalled how the baby’s legs and arms were dangling, lifelessly.
In an interview with CBS, he said how he then took the baby to the back seat of his car to take her to the hospital. But he knew he had to do something. So he turned her over and slapped the baby’s back. That saved Sammarah’s life as the baby coughed up the mucus choking her. By the time they reached the hospital, she was breathing again and crying as loud as she could.
Barca still called the day the “highlight of his career”. According to Barca, he only did what his training told him to do. Shammarah was the first baby he had to perform CPR on.
This connection would remain for the rest of their lives.
The Young Lady And The Police Officer
Shammarah was engaged to be married to Mohammed Salah, a truck driver, twenty years later. As a result, she invited Joe Barca and his wife Helen to the ceremony. The fact that he showed up was incredibly significant to Shammarah.
In fact, over the years, Barca had maintained contact with the Hammidahs. Shammarah looked up to him as if he were a second parent. Shammarah describes how the Barcas would constantly wish him on her birthday in the CBS interview. They’d also send Shammarah a Christmas present and a check. During the previous two decades, they had never missed any of the events.
Shammarah said she remembered that the first time she got to know of the police officer’s heroics was via an old recorded news video. As thankful as she is that Barca saved her life, she found it even more meaningful that he always stayed in touch.
Barca was more than willing to drive 14 hours to Chicago from New York to see the baby he had saved all grown-up. He also has three children of his own – one is a teacher while the other two are police officers. Barca was about to retire in January 2015, calling time on a 45-year-long career.
Shammarah, on her part, also wants to be someone like Barca and have the power to serve people. She had graduated from nursing school and had a promising nursing career in front of her.
There are some encounters that forever change our lives. Having a hero like police officer Joe Barca is one of the rarer encounters that can happen. However, it is touching to see them cherish each other even after such a long time. Perhaps, we can take a page out of their book and try harder to not lose contact with our loved ones.