Miami-Dade Police Officer Simon Gil received the monthly honor as February Officer of the Month during a Feb. 24 Citizens Advisory Committee meeting at the West District headquarters, 10000 SW 142 Ave. The award was not for making an arrest, but for aiding a family taken into custody.
The story began on Sunday, Dec. 27, when Gil and Officer Katherine Booty, assisting Kendall District, were called to Dadeland Mall where a couple was held after it had been reported they had taken $700 in girls’ clothing. It was then that Gil noticed the couple’s two daughters were crying and wearing torn clothing and sneakers with open holes.
Kishore Chitturi explained he and his family had “arrived from India about three months prior and that they were going through some financial hardships,” according to the citation honoring Gil.
The father added that his daughters were being bullied at their school by other students due to “the way they were dressed and their ethnic background.”
That was all Gil, his fellow-officers and friends had to hear.
Deciding to go above and beyond, Gil and fellow officers with the help of civilian friends raised $300 to buy new clothes for the children, later brought by Gil to the couple’s home on Jan. 4.
“During his interaction with the family, Officer Gil learned that they had no friends in the United States and that they did not own a car,” according to the citation. So Gil decided to treat the family to pizza and games at a Chuck-E-Cheese.
That created a special bond for Gil’s family and the Chitturis, next leading to a trip to Zoo Miami. Meanwhile, Gil contacted a family friend of the Chitturis and put them in touch with others in Miami-Dade’s Indian community.
“This wasn’t anything special for me,” Gil said, recalling a time when his family rearrived in the U. S. from Venezuela after an eight-year absence, causing him to adjust to a new home, new friends and a new school.
“I’ve always thought that being a police officer was to help people out,” he said.
After reading the citation details in full, CAC chair James Blough concluded, “This is what America is all about.”
More than a dozen officers from Gil’s unit cheered, committee members applauded and Gil, hugged by his wife, held his baby daughter and one of the most unusual documents ever signed by his District Commander, Maj. Mirtha Ramos.
Chitturi, now employed as an IT technician, looked on with a beaming smile.
Heard in a County Court, the couple’s case was dismissed.