Hillsborough deputies use traffic stop to help needy family

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – When Brittani Perez saw the blue lights in her rear view mirror on Tuesday morning, she thought, “this is the worst day ever!” 

She and her son Bernardo Jr. were arguing about going to school and she was speeding trying to get him there on time.

“Me and my son had spent quite some time arguing in the morning and when I got pulled over, all I could think about is, ‘awesome, I just got pulled over,'” said Brittani sarcastically. “This is probably a $200 ticket at least, I don’t have a job right now, I just had surgery, my husband is working very, very hard to take care of us.”

But, that is where this story takes a turn.

Bernardo is a straight-A student at Pierce Middle School in Tampa. He didn’t want to go to school because his classmates were picking on him because his clothes were old, dirty and tattered.

Brittani simply didn’t have the money to buy new clothes.

Enter Master Deputy Donnie Rizer, who spotted Perez whizzing down Thatcher Road in Hillsborough County. He was sitting by the side of the road and flagged her over.

But, instead of immediately asking her for her license and registration and writing the customary ticket, he asked her what was wrong.

She explained her situation and Deputy Rizer wrote her a warning. Perez was probably counting her blessings at that very moment, not realizing more were on the way.

Rizer got with his partner, Master Deputy John Hajj, trying to figure out what they could do for this family in need. Hajj, a former community resource deputy, contacted Target and worked with the store to get the family some of the items they needed.

“I did not know that they were capable of doing such great things for the community. I really didn’t,” said Perez, fighting back the tears. “You hear such awful horror stories. Stuff that is going on, but it’s not like that at all. I didn’t anticipate anything like this. They’ve helped me so much.”

The deputies were able to help provide the family with two uniforms for each child, backpacks, shoes and a full tank of gas.

Master Deputy Rizer hopes other motorists realize he and other motorcycle officers are not out there just to write tickets.

“We’re trained to interact with you. We try to look past the traffic stop,” said Rizer. “We don’t just look past the traffic stop to look for criminal stuff to put someone in jail. Like in this case, we saw someone in need and we came together as a family and did the best we could to try to help them.”

Follow Chip Osowski on Facebook

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