Sgt. Steve Dearth of the Hingham Police Department said he had taken a dinner break at a Panera Bread on March 4 when he noticed Lillian, 3, with her father.
Dearth said he was waiting to order his food when he noticed Lillian with her dad. They smiled and waved at each other and that’s when Lillian’s dad brought her over to meet Dearth.
“He said she wanted to be a police officer,” Dearth said in a telephone interview with Global News. “I gave her a junior police officer sticker.”
After parting ways, Dearth sat alone in a corner to enjoy his meal but Lillian walked over with her dad once again to see him.
“She was looking at the empty chair and I said ‘Go ahead,’” said Dearth. “She had a lot of questions: ‘Do I have a police car? Where is my jacket? Why don’t I have a jacket it’s cold out.”
Lillian even talked to him about school, movies and what some of her favourite things are.
“She never once looked back at her family,” said Dearth about Lillian’s parents and younger brother who were sitting a few tables away.
Lillian even asked Dearth if they could have a play date – but in a few days.
“She said the cutest thing,” said Dearth. “I don’t know what the few days were for but she had to wait a few days.”
After their conversation, Dearth brought Lillian back to her parents and then pulled up his police cruiser to the restaurant so Lillian, along with her father, could take a look.
A few weeks later, Lillian and her mom went to the Hingham police station for her play date.
“She had a big box of munchkins Dunkin Donuts. She gave me a big hug and she said, ‘These are for you but you have to share with your friends.”
Dearth gave Lillian and her mom a tour, introduced her to other officers and even showed her a few police motorcycles.
“She’s very sociable and very outgoing. I’ve been here for 24 years and never seen a child that friendly,” Dearth said of Lillian.
“Our job can be negative… they don’t call us to say they got the winning goal today or an A on a report card. They call us when they need help, which is our job and that’s what we signed up for. But when you have moments like this, it recharges your batteries; it can outweigh years of negativity.
“It was the best break I’ve ever had,” said Dearth.