Teen was heading down the wrong path, but when police officer steps in—it’s a different story

January 12, 2018 9:49 am Last Updated: January 12, 2018 9:49 am

Whoever said, “It’s the little things that matter,” knew what they were talking about. Of course grand gestures or expensive gifts are enjoyed by everyone. But sometimes taking the time and effort to simply show someone how much you appreciate them makes the biggest impact.

High school student Braxton Hampton took it upon himself to show how grateful he was for help from resource officer Cathi Long by giving her a special thank-you letter.

He said the letter was well-deserved, because Long went above and beyond for Braxton when he needed it most.

Braxton gave Officer Long a hand-written letter.


According to WFTS, Long is a student resource officer (SRO), who has developed close mentoring relationships with dozens of students at Countryside High School. Her skills have not gone unnoticed either—she won SRO of the year in 2016 for Pinellas County.

Out of all of her students, Braxton was one of the biggest challenges she faced, but she was willing to accept it.

Like any troubled child, Braxton was headed down the wrong path in life. The basketball player’s grades had begun to plummet, and there was a time when he was not even allowed to play on the team. But after the death of his brother, he admitted things got really rough.

“I’m still dealing with it now, trying to get my mom through it. She’s actually crying right now,” he told WFTS.

With the help of Long, Braxton turned his life around.

As Long began giving the student the strong support and accountability that he needed, while also passing along some sound advice, Braxton was slowly able to get back on track. His senior basketball season was impressive, and he’s on his way to prep school with college on his mind, according to WFTS.

Braxton gives all the credit to his parents and Officer Long.

“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be in the shoes I am in now,” he said.

Braxton was then given a class assignment to write a letter to someone he considered a mentor, and he jumped at the chance to show Long his appreciation.

“Dear officer Long,” he began the hand-written letter.

“Thank you for being basically my second mom. You’ve helped me so much with getting back on track to graduate.”

Braxton thanked the kind mentor for being an open ear when he was having a bad day.

“You’ve never given up on me and that’s why I cherish you the most,” it says.

Braxton ended his letter by saying, “When I walk across that stage I’m going to give you the biggest hug ever, because you made this possible for me. I love you Officer Long. Happy Mentor/Teacher Appreciation week.”

The simple gesture of putting a pen to paper touched the officer’s heart deeply, and now whenever she reads it, she starts to cry.

“I just love to see them grow and mature,” she said.

Long’s mentorship clearly helped this struggling student get through a particularly tough time in his life, and his heartfelt response will continue to touch this officer and many others for years to come.