West Palm Beach police officer honored for going above and beyond his duty to serve

Posted at 9:06 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-16 05:21:00-05

A West Palm Beach Police officer took it upon himself to help a family in need, and all he asked was that they not say anything. The recipient, Charlotte Rivera, was so touched, however, that she had to go against the officer's orders.

It all started with a burglary at a downtown West Palm Beach construction site. Rivera says she'd stashed her two daughters' Christmas presents in her office inside. When the burglar broke in, he took all of the gifts.

That's where Officer Gus Chavez came in. He responded to the call for help after the burglary.

"It was going to be a tough Christmas for her. She had saved all year for her kids," Chavez said. "It got to me. I only had 70 bucks on me. I gave it to her, and I knew she had lost a lot more than that."

The police veteran of 30-years then told Rivera to stay put, promising to be back. He went straight to his bank and pulled out more money. When he came back, he handed her an additional $300.

"It was unreal," Rivera said.

"She was almost in shock," Chavez smiled. "She didn't want to accept it, and I told her she had to because it was from my family to hers."

It was a gift that made Rivera's Christmas.

"It's made it whole," she said. Now, I don't have to worry about having to replenish or not being able to replenish the things that were taken."

To give back, she and her boss worked with the police department to surprise the officer and thank him for his good deed. He was dispatched back out to the construction site, thinking he'd be taking care of more business. When he got there, however, Charlotte picked him up in a gold cart and drove him over to a crowd of people waiting to honor him. He was given a certificate of appreciation.

"I wasn't expecting this or looking for this," Chavez said after the ceremony. "I just wanted to put a smile on her face and her kids' face and that was it. But I'm more than blessed and grateful for this."