State troopers’ meal paid for by unlikely person

When Jared Rice saw two state troopers eating dinner, he knew he had an opportunity to show his appreciation.
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Jared Rice’s relationship with law enforcement hasn’t always been a good one.

The 39-year-old Saint Paul resident is open about his past – which includes felony convictions and several years served in a Nebraska prison – and about having been “on the wrong end” of officers’ gun barrels.

His life is on a different path now. He’s married and has two sons, ages seven and 13.

Like many, Rice has seen the news coverage of the deaths of two law enforcement officers – Lincoln Police Investigator Mario Herrera and Lancaster County Sheriff Deputy Troy Bailey. And, like many, he wanted to do something to show his gratitude and support.

So when he saw two state troopers sharing a meal together at a Grand Island restaurant, the reformed felon knew he had his opportunity.

Unbeknownst to the officers, he paid for their meals, before thanking them for their service and going home with his family.

Later that night, he posted about the experience on Facebook. The post has since garnered thousands of ‘likes,’ and has been shared with thousands – including the Nebraska State Patrol.

“They didn’t have to know,” he told Channel 8 Eyewitness News. “I didn’t expect that Facebook post to take off like that.”

On top of wanting to show his appreciation, Rice says his good deed was also prompted by another patron in the restaurant. He captured a picture of a woman who went over to pray for the troopers as they ate their meal.

“It really touched me,” he said, adding that he believes she’s the one who deserves the unexpected attention his post is bringing.

Rice says he wanted the experience to serve as a teaching moment for his sons about the sacrifices officers make to keep their communities safe.

“I wanted my boys to know the sincere thankfulness for the occupation they chose,” he wrote in his Facebook post. “I would never want their careers or the scrutiny they face daily.”

Rice says the recent deaths of Herrera and Bailey have created a chance for Nebraskans to come together in support of one another.

“In trying time we’ve got to be there for one another and support each other,” he said. “They say we’re ‘Nebraska Strong’ and we show it every day… you keep throwing things at us, we keep getting back up.”

Rice hopes his act, which he calls “the absolute smallest thing” he could do to show his support, will inspire others to spread kindness.

“Take that chance,” he said. “You might not get it again.”

 

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