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True Police Stories
"Courage is the ability to move;
when all around you are frozen in fear
My Name is Samuel Jeppsen
I became a
police officer with the belief I could make a difference.
I was born into the Church. My father was strong in the gospel and was faithful to the Lord and to his family throughout his life. He was the son of a bishop in a small town called Mantua Utah. A stubborn Danishman, he was one of the hardest workers I ever knew. But he was also one of the most giving men I ever knew. My mother is a Tongan lady, born on the isle of Tonga. She was raised a Methodist and was sent to Catholic schools for her education. At age 25, she became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My mother was the strongest believer in Christ I ever met. She was a quiet woman who didn't like to get up and speak but was asked on many occasions to share her inspiring conversion story. It is found here, in the poem section of this site entitled, "The Gift of My Heart."
When my mother and her brother Frederick joined the Church in Tonga, it was at first, at great cost to them. In family relationships. But with their testimonies, their love and their long suffering, their joining the Church turned out to be the gateway for the rest of their family. Uncle Frederick went on to become the director of the well known, "Mormon Choir of Southern California." As the result of the work of my mother and father, today there are over 70 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who are members of the Church. Though gone now, my mothers testimony lives in me still. When I began police work in 1978 she gave me a new Bible and Book of Mormon. In my Bible she wrote,
stay very close to the Lord, my beloved son,
In my Book of Mormon she wrote,
"Search, pray, and study diligently the contents
My mother was, and is, a remarkable lady.
In 25 years of police work, I've had some really neat experiences. Experiences that have impacted me for better and for worse. I've been in four police officer involved shootings, lots and lots of scuffles and fights, kicked in a few doors, put my share of bad guys away and more. Being a cop was more than a job to me; it was who I was. Of all I could share, I feel to share three short stories with you. The first one is about an old man who was trapped in a wrecked car, holding the hand of his wife, his girlfriend who had been killed and was singing a song about Jesus. The second is about a lonely and forgotten about homeless man by the name of Mickey and the spiritual experience I had while talking with him. It is a story that if I forget all the other police experiences in my career, I will never forget that experience. The third story is about my friend and my cousin, Tisina Wolfgramm. Tisina, like my mother, is a Tongan. Tisina was crushed by a car and received a Melchizedek Priesthood blessing from her father. She is the recipient of a miracle. Each story had great impact on me and changed me forever.
The first story took place near the midpoint in my career. As a result of the amount of tragedy police officers deal with, we tend to become callous to it and unaware of the effect that callousness has on us. So like most cops, I learned to detach myself from human suffering. In fact, all emergency service personnel learn to do that.
is something we
It was just another day at the office.
As I continued on in my career, I became better and better at removing myself from
the human suffering
that I saw. I had been on several scenes involving dead bodies. I had seen both
the old and the young
die. I had been to several fatality accidents and I had even been first on the
scene of a vehicle fatality
where the driver was caught inside when his fuel tank ruptured and burst into
flames. As time went
on, I got to the point where very little fazed me anymore. I had become almost
totally numb to human
tragedy and suffering. But I didn’t realize just how numb I had gotten until an
incident occurred in my ninth year of law enforcement. An incident that only Julie and I and one old
man knows anything
about. An incident that I have never told anyone, not even my family. Yet, as
hard as I try to forget,
even today, the memory won’t leave me alone.
Everything I did for her added up to nothing!
That young woman lost her husband and her baby that night. I wasn’t able to do
anything for her and
I never saw her again. I wanted to help, but I was helpless. But, as little as
it was, you don’t know
how many times I have seen that old man’s face in my mind, and wish I had done
at least that much
for him. I have wished many times that I could roll back the clock to that
incident and create a
different ending to that story. But I can’t. None of us can, can we! That
experience on the road to
Las Vegas changed the rest of my career. I vowed I would never again, be so cold
and so unfeeling,
that I could look upon another’s misery and feel nothing. No empathy. No desire
to help in what ever
way I could. I’m not the best cop out there, but since that time, I’ve always
tried to make the
situation better somehow for the other guy. It was not only my Christian duty,
but I began to realize
that but by the grace of God, I could be that, “other guy!”
Well, compassionate service is not
about the loaf of
bread or the plate of food you bring by. It’s not about helping someone move or
lending a shoulder
to cry on or merely just being there for someone. It’s far beyond that.
The only other police story I feel to share with you, so impacted me that I will never forget it and it will remain deep in my heart forever. It's about a guy by the name of Mikey.
I was working one afternoon and a “suspicious person” call came over the air.
The complaint was
that, “a black male adult about thirty-five years old, wearing a green coat and
gray pants, was
hanging around the eastbound on-ramp of Ellsworth Rd. and U.S. 60.” The chopper
did a “fly over”
and told me his location. I drove out there and sure enough, there he was. He
was sitting down, off
the side of the road in some weeds about head high. I got out of my car and
began walking up on him.
As I was doing so, I was looking him over to see what I was getting myself in
for. But he was
obviously just a transient. His coat and pants were old and ragged. They were
also filthy, grimy, dirty.
The kind that only comes from wearing the same clothing for a long period of
time without washing
them. Alongside him was a little duffle bag. It was open and inside were all his
He was sitting down in the weeds and was reading out of the Bible, in Second
Corinthians. I smiled
and said, “Hey partner.” But he didn’t say a thing. He never looked up. He just
sat there as if I was
not even there. I spoke to him again a little louder and more aggressively, “Hey
partner.” The second
time, just like the first time, he just sat there. Not a word. Not a move. The
third time I spoke to him
very sternly but as before, it was as if I wasn’t even there. I was certain I
had a wise guy. Now, ready
for and expecting a physical confrontation, I bent down and got real close to
his ear and said very
wasn’t a man, he was just a boy. ...Just a young boy.
I wanted to reach out and grab his arm and say, “Hey man,
But I was a cop and I was there on business. This wasn’t the time or the place to tell him what I felt in my heart. So in my infinite wisdom, I looked up at him and said, “Well pal, I don’t know what to tell ya!” He looked at me for a few moments and then he wrote, “Yes you do!” I looked back up at him and asked, “I know what to tell you?” He shook his head yes and beckoned an answer with his hands. My heart went out to him. So, I told him the things that came to my heart to tell him. I remember those words as if I said them just minutes ago. I told him,
"I know that Jesus Christ lives! I know that Jesus Christ loves you!
So on those nights when you’re
cold and all alone,
“Tell me again, about my mom.”
I’ve never seen him since and I don’t know where he went, but I will never forget Mikey. I will never forget his terrible loneliness. His desperate need for a family. The tremendous love and need he had for his mother. I will never forget the tears on his face, the sadness in his eyes when he wrote about his mom. I really believe in my heart, that she was there that day. Somehow helping me to convey her feelings to her son.
Now many years later, I still find myself thinking of Mikey.
Partly perhaps because now I too have lost my mom. And my dad. But I am so grateful for a religion that believes that families can be families forever. That death does not separate loved ones but for a time. I am so grateful that my wife can be my wife for time and all eternity and we can live as husband and wife. As a couple, forever. So grateful that my children can be sealed to me for time and all eternity as well. That my children can live with their companion as husband and wife. As couples, with us, forever. So grateful that my older brother John, who died at 17 days, will still be my brother in the next life and still be a son to my mom and dad and that because my mom and dad have had him sealed to them, they did not lose him at his death. And that one day, they will have the opportunity to raise him during the millennium.
And I don't understand a religion that does not believe these things.
Why would families be so important here
I'm grateful for the true knowledge that families can be families forever and that with the power Jesus gave Peter and told Peter would bind in heaven whatsoever he bound on earth and loose in heaven whatsoever was loosed on earth, families can be families forever. I am so grateful for a religion that teaches marriages do not have to be, "Until death do us part." But instead, if they are done in the Temple's of our Lord, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, they can be, "For time and all eternity."
Julie and I and our family have been
sealed for time and all eternity
I love my family with all my heart and I am so grateful that through our Savior Jesus Christ, the truth and power has been restored to the earth as it was in days of old. That the God of the Old Testament, the God of the New Testament, the Great Jehovah, even Jesus the Christ, through the Prophet Joseph Smith has brought back all the truths that were once upon the earth.
I love my wife more than I have words to express and no consolation prize, no matter how grand, would ever be grand enough to take her place in the hereafter. Never to be my wife again. I know my mother loves me with all her heart and no consolation prize would ever be enough to replace me in her life. And I know Mikey's mom loves Mikey with all her heart and no consolation prize would ever replace him in her life.
I am so grateful for the true knowledge that families
This last story, not a police story, but is very dear to my heart because I know the people involved and it deals with part of my heritage. As I said earlier, my mother is a Tongan. She was born on the isle of Samoa while her mother and father were on a trip there. My mother married an American born full blooded Danishman. My mothers mother, Minna Mathilde Sanft, married an American doctor from San Francisco who moved to Tanga. Her mother, Haliote Fifita Afu, married a Prussian who moved to Tanga in the late 1870's. Haliote had a brother by the name of Pita Afu. Pita had a daughter by the name of Salome Fo'ou Afu who had Iohani Wolfgramm. Iohani had a daughter named Tisina. Tisina and I are of the same age and the same 4th generation from Pita and Haliote. Tisina and I are not only cousins, we are friends. I grew up around Tisina and Iohani and his wife Solate Fakatou. I've known them from the many family get-togethers in Salt Lake City, Utah. Iohani died in 1997 in my 19th year of law enforcement. Thus, though I am only 1/8th Tongan, I cherish that 1/8th. It makes me literally part of the House of Israel, whose branches ran over the wall from Joseph of Egypt. For these reason and more, I have a great love for the Tongan and Samoan people.
This next story was given to me by Tisina. It is from the journal of Iohani, who like my mother was a person of exceeding great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is about a car accident Tisina was involved in and a Melchizedek Priesthood blessing she received from her father, Iohani. This remarkable story is here as he wrote it in his journal.
"I was finishing up the monthly reports for the Fo'oi Branch when the Spirit told me to stop and look out the window, but I was too busy. The second time the Spirit spoke to me, he said, 'Iohani, stop now and look out the window.' Still I went on working. The third time I felt like someone was pushing me off the chair and told me to stop and look out the window. I was surprised to see a group of people hovering over something in the road and rushed out to find my family in trouble.
Many people, all at once, were trying to tell me what had happened. I could only see the body of my little girl Tisina with her head crushed and lifeless body laying in the street. My wife Salote had crossed the street to go to the home of Lolo and Mataele about 2:30 in the afternoon after sacrament meeting. Malina, Ana, Sale and Tisina were told to wait until the road was clear to cross. They couldn't figure out how Tisina came loose from Malina's hand and tried to run after her mother, but she ran into the road and was hit by a car. The driver was unaware that he had hit Tisina and that her lifeless body was laying in the road. The next car was full of American soldiers who had just returned from a sight seeing tour of the Village of Ha'Atafu and stopped immediately to help. Malina was the first one to try to pick Tisina's body off the street. Sale ran to hold her little head up but was too scared. Ana ran over and started to lift Tisina's body and saw the blood coming out through her mouth, nose, ears, and eyes. She was so frightened she dropped her and ran off. Salote came running and saw the blood on her face. She fainted by the roadway. Friends and neighbors came with a bucket of cold water to pour over Salote's face, then she finally came out of it.
My missionary companion, Samuela Vehikite, brought a mat to carry Tisina's body inside their house. A van arrived with American soldiers and offered to take Tisina back to the army hospital at Houma where an American doctor could see what could be done for the child. I agreed, so they put Tisina inside their truck and started for Houma, about a mile away. Though shocked, I finally got my composure and ran after the truck and said,
Please stop, please! ...I just changed my mind.
In my mind, I had forgotten to give Tisina a priesthood blessing. I asked the soldiers if they would please back up their truck and bring Tisina into the home right away. At this time, other churches had just barely let their members out from church. Sekona, a Samoan, call out and said, 'Iohani, don't try to act like God, but send your daughter to the hospital and see if a doctor can help her.'
Many were afraid and some were very upset with me,
I called Samuela Vehikite to assist me by anointing the consecrated oil on Tisina's head and as I began to utter the prayer, I couldn't say a word. My mouth was locked. My mind was blank. No words would come. But in a few minutes the Spirit spoke to me in my mind that there were so many unbelievers in and out of the house that had no faith that Tisina would ever recover from her accident, that I should send the people home.
I immediately opened my eyes and asked the people if they wanted Tisina to come back to life to please leave my home now so we can pray for her. Oh my! Non-members were furious and started to spit at me. Some picked up rocks and started throwing them at the house as they were leaving, calling me names. I knew the American doctor might help Tisina walk again, but how about her brain? I knew that only God who created her, who gave her life, would be the only one who could help Tisina completely recover and bring her memory back to normal again.
I asked Salote to go ahead and fix supper for the family, but I would go and pray for Tisina. I prayed and prayed and thanked the Lord for all His blessings to us, for sending us on a mission, but how I wouldn't like to part with any of my children yet because we have no white material for her burial nor funeral cloth in Tongatapu, but in Vava'u we did. I reminded the Lord of how He saved the Israelites by parting the waters of the Red Sea, how Christ raised people from the dead, and of the simple faith of a missionary who just had his daughter run over by a car and had been killed, you can understand of my love for her. I reviewed how Lazarus was raised after being in the tomb for four days, through faith and the power of the priesthood. I prayed and thanked the Lord for those great prophets of old and their faith and special callings in the church from Adam down to the prophet Joseph Smith. I said, 'I don't want a funeral away from all my family, and if this little girl has a special mission on earth to do, please spare her life so she can fulfill that blessing and her mission.'
I was on my knees over four hours that evening.
A humble and very sweet warm feeling came over my heart
I opened my eyes slowly, filled with deep gratitude and tears of joy. I went over to Salote and said, 'Not tonight, but tomorrow.' Salote and the children didn't touch any food that evening. Everyone was shocked and felt so bad about Tisina.
Samuela Vehikite and I waited and waited all night long and about 3:00am, we felt the Spirit fill our souls and knew that this was finally the right time for us to give Tisina her priesthood blessing. Samuela Vehikite anointed her and I sealed the blessing, I thanked the Lord and expressed his love to me in answering my prayers and said,
'Tisina, by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood
which we hold,
After the blessing everyone knelt down before they went to bed and in a circle offered a prayer, then we retired. I came into the room where Tisina still had her face covered with the cloth. She was still dead. I picked her up and laid her little broken head on my arm and kept her body close to me. Hours seemed to pass. I finally dozed off and on for about two more hours and about 6:00 a.m. I felt someone playing around my face and touching my hair. I slowly opened my eyes and to my surprise saw Tisina standing up playing with my face and hair with a big smile on her face.
I slowly reached out to feel Tisina's head. It was normal. I started to feel her hands, legs, face, everything that had been promised had come true. Samela Vehikite remembered that in her priesthood blessing that when the sun rose up in the morning she would rise up together with the sun. So he opened the window shades and sure enough, the sun had just barely risen in the sky. How excited we were to have our little daughter back with us again. We sang a special hymn to thank God for her return and said a long prayer of thanksgiving by me.
A few minutes later a knock came to our door.
My dear brothers and sisters, if I could tell you anything I would tell you I know for an absolute certainty that Christ lives. I have just had too many experiences in my life to ever believe otherwise. Christ has always led His people by faith. His signs that He is there with us, are sometimes so slight, when explained to a non-believer, they are often explained away as a coincidence. Giving us our freedom to choose for ourselves is the way of the Lord. He gives us our choice to choose for ourselves whether His work was a miracle or just a coincidence. He forces no man to believe in Him. He makes no evidence so compelling that doubt is removed and our freedom to willingly choose to follow Him is taken from us.
When Christ was baptized, those who witnessed His baptism saw a dove descending out of heaven and landing on His shoulder. Those who believed in Christ, recognized it as the Spirit of God, descending upon the Only Begotten Son of God; Jesus The Christ. Those who believed not in Christ, saw only a dove land on his shoulder. Nothing more. Yet to both, the sign was given. Each were allowed to see what they believed. A miracle or a coincidence. But to he who believed, more and more of the mysteries of God were unfolded to him. And more and more of the power of Heaven was given him. And thus it is with us.
We, the recipient, know when the Lord has answered our prayers.
I know that He has answered many-many prayers of mine and has opened many-many doors for me that were otherwise shut. Both spiritually and temporally. Brothers and sisters, I have experienced talents and abilities in different circumstances that are not my own and I am a man who lives far beyond my ability to achieve. I know that Christ lives and I would not know it more if He were standing along side me now. I know that He lives. I know the Atonement is real and I know He loves us, even when we can no longer love ourselves. I know that He is the way. He is the Light of the world and the last and only hope any of us have.
He is Alfa and Omega, He is Jesus The Christ.
Christ lives, my dear brother and sister.
In the sacred name of the Savior, Jesus Christ,
Officer Samuel Jeppsen #3751 (Ret) R# 140
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Thank you and God bless,
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