Police officer pays out of his own pocket to help family in need

Portland police Officer Carlos Ibarra would lose sleep over this one. On Sunday afternoon he got a call to help a family who needed food and place to stay. He ended up footing the motel bill himself.

Officer Ibarra says he deals with a lot of homeless people who could use help, but usually it is just a husband and wife and a kid or two at the most. This is a first for him.

This family had seven kids. Dad had driven back to Portland from Arizona, kids in tow, when things didn't work out down south.

Speaking little English, and hoping they might see someone they knew, the family went back to the house they used to live in.

No luck. The house was empty, and with nowhere to go, the family called police, but the dispatcher couldn't really get through the language barrier.

That's where Officer Ibarra comes in.

He spent hours figuring out what they needed and calling shelters.

"A lot of the places I was calling I wasn't getting anyone on the phone -- just voice mail to call back during the week," said Ibarra.

So he tried motels -- many couldn't take such a big group -- but the Motel 6 on Stark could make room.

Still, there was the matter of the bill. 70 dollars. That's not in the police department's budget.

But it was in Ibarra's. He paid for the room out of his own pocket.

"I just couldn't imagine going home to my comfortable bed and air conditioning while those seven kids are sleeping in their van in this hot weather," he said. "This would be my way of helping them get some rest and some hope for tomorrow when they could find some more help getting a more permanent place to stay."

The good deed didn't end there. The kids hadn't eaten much in who knows how long.

"The father told me the kids had some bread on the way up -- maybe the day before," said Ibarra.

He went to the Portland Police Bureau's Sunshine Division and got a basket of food for the family.

"When I walked in with the food, the kids started tearing into the cans. They didn't even warm up the soup. Nothing. Everything was just going straight into their mouths."

And there's more.

The viewer who tipped KATU to this story said he had never seen such patience and compassion as he did watching Officer Ibarra work with this family.

"Quite incredible" were the words he used. And he wouldn't let Ibarra leave without giving him $30 for the family. He wanted to stay anonymous.

Ibarra tells KATU the family is getting help from a local church to find a place to stay.

Ibarra has only been on the force for a couple of years.

He's 28 and single and doesn't have any kids of his own but says it was seeing those kids, playing in the yard of their old house, not knowing the worry and stress that dad was going through, that got to him.

"Maybe because I don't have a wife and kids I can afford to donate some money, but any officer would jump at the opportunity to help this family," he said.