It is no mean feat being a highway patrol officer in Mississippi, but when state trooper Jason Ales stopped a speeding motorist in Batesville, he got more than he bargained for. Ales wasn’t verbally abused, nor did he witness the driver pleading forgiveness. In fact, the motorist, Mike Powers, took a very different approach to being issued with a fine.
The story begins in early September 2015 when Powers, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was having a challenging work week. Powers’ manager had rearranged his schedule, instructing him to commute from Nashville, Tennessee, to Mississippi for a business appointment. Powers had spent Tuesday night in a hotel and was apprehensive about the journey that Wednesday morning.
Already behind schedule, Powers raced through a 60-zone at a breakneck 80 miles an hour. But despite the pressure of running late for work, Powers’ day was about to get even more troublesome. Ales pulled him over and served him with a routine speeding ticket.
But as Ales issued the $200 fine, Powers was struck with an unusual urge. He wanted to ask the cop about his own welfare and that of his colleagues. So Powers told Ales that he’d been concerned about the recent dangers faced by law enforcement officers. Indeed, August 2015 had been a tough month for the police, with 14 officers losing their lives across the country.
“I just had a feeling I needed to ask him how his day was going,” Powers told WJTV in September 2015. “I said how are you and how are the officers in Mississippi doing in light of all the senseless killings of police officers. He said he’s doing good and it’s tough and he was going to keep doing what he needed to do to help people.”
Moreover, highway state troopers have a very demanding job. Men are more likely than women to commit traffic violations in the U.S., and officers are often met with aggression when pulling offenders over. The summer of 2015 had also seen an outbreak of violence against the police in the country.
So when Ales encountered a different reaction from Powers despite issuing him a fine, he was a little taken aback. Still, Ales responded by admitting that although his job was not easy, he was committed to keeping the roads safe. “It’s rough and it’s kind of scary,” Ales said.
Impressed by the officer’s clear commitment to the public, then, Powers decided to make a gesture. But little did he know it would be one that would reach much further than the highway. Powers handed the trooper a wooden saint bracelet. “I took my bracelet off and told him that I give these out to my family, friends, and military members who might need extra protection,” Powers later wrote on Facebook. The various images on the bracelet were a symbol of Powers’ faith and his support of the work done by law enforcement officers.
And Ales was so touched by Powers’ act of kindness that he decided to cancel the ticket he’d issued. The policeman said it was exactly the type of exchange he wanted to deal with in light of the violence police officers were facing at the time.
“I was so touched by it I almost teared up there,” Ales told WJTV, recalling the moment he was given the holy trinket. “With the stuff that’s going on with officers, that right there was so positive we needed that.” It seems one stranger’s kindness had restored the officer’s faith in people’s attitude towards his badge.
Powers, meanwhile, was equally blown away by his brief exchange with the cop. It transpired that he had actually spent the previous night offering prayers for the bad things happening in the world. And in footage featured on WJTV, Powers told how the chance encounter with Ales had given him a new perspective on life.
In the clip Powers said his work pressure was “nothing” compared to what a highway cop deals with every day. “My day was stressful because I was trying to get somewhere I didn’t think I’d make it to,” he said. “That was nothing to what he deals with on a daily basis, the stress he has to deal with not knowing if he’s going to make it back home.”
Little did Powers know his actions on that fateful day would touch the hearts of thousands of people worldwide. His Facebook post detailing the incident soon started attracting attention, and Powers followed it up with a video that explained what had happened the night before. And as the story went viral Powers soon realized it was news that many people were happy to read.
Reactions across social media were overwhelmingly positive. Many users expressed thanks to the two men for restoring their faith in humanity. One reader interpreted it as proof how “faith can affect so many [people]” while another described the two men as “wonderful.” Powers acknowledged a couple of dismissive comments but reiterated that the vast majority were positive.
As for Trooper Ales, he was blown away by Powers’ generosity and has no regrets about tearing up his ticket. He keeps the wooden bracelet inside his patrol car where it dangles from the camera inside his windshield. Ales says he keeps his own faith but sees the gift as a reminder that he is being protected.
In his Facebook video Powers rejoiced over the turn of events, claiming it was God responding to his prayers. He believes it was his chance to give something back to society. “I know how hard I prayed last night and how much I hoped God heard what I had to say,” Powers said. “He gave me a chance today, I think.”
Meanwhile, in a final show of faith Powers took the $200 he would have spent on the ticket and did something special. He donated it to the Mississippi-based Palmer Home for Children, a Christian organization that provides kids with shelter and education. And youngsters at the home were so grateful that they sent Powers a picture to thank him for his donation.
Moreover, as the story continued to spread across social media the two men became firm buddies. “I’ve made a lifelong friend out of it,” Powers said. And the mutual respect they showed towards each other impacted the lives of others in a very positive way, too.
That’s because the two men subsequently made plans to set up their own charity, We Do. Powers said it would be focused on “selling bracelets and using the money to give to the families of fallen officers.”
“We decided to give back to those who need our help the most, and start a charity to bring people together,” they wrote on the charity’s Vimeo page. “No matter where they are, or what it takes.” It is the perfect ending to an inspiring story of how friendship can prevail in times of trouble.