Ceremony salutes officer’s above-and-beyond actions to theft victim

New Bedford Police Officer Jason Viera. (Julianne Peixoto, WPRI-TV)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Officer Jason Viera has been a New Bedford police officer for nearly seventeen years, and originally got into it not for himself — but for others.

“What inspired me was the ability to be able to help people… It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.”

When a woman called police last month, saying she’d had a package of steak and shrimp stolen from her doorstep after it was delivered, Viera got her a gift card to try and see the stolen goods replaced.

Thursday, at a ceremony at the South End police station, department top brass and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said they wanted to thank Viera.

“I want to thank you, Jason, for really doing something that really not only exemplifies the best traditions of the New Bedford Police Department, but also what’s important to us as a community,” said Mitchell.

Packages being stolen off porches have increased in the past few years as buying online has proliferated.

Dorothy Charbonneau, 82, had purchased steak and shrimp by mail for a special meal with her son. Someone decided to take them for themselves instead.

When Officer Viera went to take her statement, “it just felt like I should do a little something more.”

He brought her a copy of the incident report the next day, and a gift card to Stop and Shop he’d bought for her, with a note encouraging her to enjoy the dinner.

“I didn’t want her moment to be stolen also,” said Viera at the ceremony.

But he didn’t tell anyone what he’d done. Heroes rarely seek the spotlight.

Instead, the story grew legs after Denise Laubenstein, Dorothy’s daughter, shared it on social media. When asked about it by a reporter, she expressed her gratitude: “[It was] very special that this young man would do that — would have empathy for an elderly woman.”

Officer Viera’s fiancee, Ernestina Soares, said it’s par for the course with him. “Jason’s a very generous kind person… He’s always there willing to help anyone who needs any help.

“I know he’s going to be an excellent role model for our son,” she added.

Laubenstein said her family hopes Viera’s actions inspire other people to do kind things for each other.