Officer guides crying girl to family


Here’s a reminder of the important service law enforcement officers play in our community.

By Freida Frisaro | The Associated Press

MIAMI — The lost little girl on the beach was wearing a T-shirt stamped with Disney’s Frozen princesses.

She was crying.

But all was made right after a kind stranger comforted her and a police officer walked her back to her family.

A bystander’s photo of the officer and child walking hand in hand drew widespread attention after it was posted on Facebook.

Clearwater police officers Rich Edmonds and Ryan Bianca had just started their shift Tuesday evening when the call came in: Child found on the beach.

Edmonds, who has two young children of his own, said his heart almost stopped as it always does when he gets calls involving children.

Once at the beach, Edmonds found 6-year-old Hannah with a woman whose family had been enjoying the afternoon at the beach.

“She calmed the little girl down, gave her a juice box and called police,” Edmonds recalled in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday.

Meanwhile, authorities learned that someone about a half-mile down the beach had approached lifeguards about a missing child. Bianca headed to the lifeguard station to meet the family. Edmonds planned to take Hannah to his patrol vehicle and drive her there.

“She was upset and didn’t want to get in the vehicle,” Edmonds said. “So I said, ’OK, let’s walk.’ ”