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Texas police officers buy car seats for family in need instead of giving tickets

A Texas police officer was troubled by what he saw in the back seat during a traffic stop earlier this month: three young girls who didn’t have car seats.

But instead of issuing tickets to their dad, Officer Justin Gower and another policeman decided to help the struggling family by buying seats for the girls, ages 1, 3 and 4. Officers working that day chipped in and spent about $145 for the seats, the Cedar Park, Texas, police department said.

The man, who wasn’t identified, was grateful.

“It was nothing short of a miracle,” he said in a comment released by the police department. “It was something that was really needed. The officers have been a blessing.”

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According to the police department, Gower pulled over the man Oct. 17 for a malfunctioning light and an expired registration. Another officer, Cale Hawkins, knew that the man had previously lived in his car to save money to bring his family to the area by bus, and that the family has been reunited and is living in a hotel, police said.

Learning about the family's situation, the officers agreed to buy the seats rather than ticket the dad, police said.

“I was upset because it’s extremely dangerous,” Gower told KXAN-TV. “I have kids and I know how fragile they are, especially how young these kids were.

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“They’re trying to get things going, they’re going in the right direction, and to issue them three citations for each child would just devastate them,” he added.

Hawkins, who purchased the seats at a discount from Wal-Mart, saw the gesture as a way to help a family.

“Money is not the issue, it’s the issue of can you help them, and so that was the easiest way we saw, the fastest path to helping them,” Hawkins told the station.

The police department in Cedar Park, a city north of Austin, Texas, shared news of the officers’ gesture on Facebook, and thanked people for their positive comments.

“We also want to mention that this behavior is reflective of not only Cedar Park Police Officers, but police officers throughout our country who do things like this each day,” the department wrote on its Facebook page. “We are honored to wear a badge and even more so to serve this community.”

TODAY.com contributor Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter.

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