Police light up the lives of young patients

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – In the fast-paced, dangerous world of police work, members of the East Providence Police Department brightening up bedtime for some young patients who are facing the fight of their lives at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

As the sun sets on a parking area between the East Bay Bike Path and Veterans Memorial Parkway, squad cars arrive and steer their headlights toward the hospital across the Providence River.

“Alright,” Commander Michael David yells. “Light it up.”

“They get a break from the accidents and the assaults to do something that’s really just all about the children.”

This bright idea is part of Good Night Lights, which involves a number of local businesses. On various nights, they flash lights and signs toward the hospital.

East Providence police officers hit their siren lights for a matter of minutes, but the impact on everyone involved lasts much longer. Across the river, pediatric patients and their nurses turn the lights off and wait for the good night signal.

“Most of them have probably been through treatment today and they’re not feeling their best,” David says.”So it’s a way for them to end their night knowing the people across the river are really thinking about them.”

Smiles glow from the kids in the hospital – to the faces of the officers a few miles away.

Calls for service do pull police away when necessary, but while they’re flashing their lights, the moments of downtime mean something.

“They’re working the night shift,” David says. “These are the people who are on until midnight, sometimes overnight until eight in the morning. They get a break from the accidents and the assaults to do something that’s really just all about the children.”

A signal that what the officers are doing is important often comes from the other side of the river.

“You see that,” David says, pointing toward a hospital window. “They’re flashing one now. We see them flashing back. We’ve heard from them. We’ve heard from parents. They love it. It’s a way for them to end their night.”

East Providence police joined the Good Night Lights movement in February. They now ‘light it up’ every Wednesday evening.

“We let the children know that we’re thinking about them and we want to say goodnight,” David says.

Send your story ideas to Walt at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow us on Twitter:@StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.

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