Every morning before sunrise, when the stars are still in the sky, Ralls Police Chief Steven Longoria makes a cup of coffee and heads out on the same route. 

The chief follows behind a school bus as it picks up seven special needs kids around town.

“It started probably mid to last school year,” Chief Longoria said. “Actually Donavon’s mother and the actual school bus driver had reached out to me and told me a lot of people were not stopping for the red lights. And they just wanted to know if I could help keep an eye out.”

Since Chief Longoria started his new task, he said drivers no longer speed past the bus. 

“I’ve only had to stop one car,” Chief Longoria said. “There’s been quite a few that thought they were going to pass the bus, but saw me and made a wise decision not to.”
For the chief, the task is a privilege not a chore.
“Safety is top priority especially for special needs kids,” Chief Longoria said. “It’s just something we have to do. It’s hard enough to keep a lot of them on the bus, you don’t want one of them getting off and getting hit by a car that doesn’t want to stop.” 
One of the children on the bus is Donavon Nichols. He has been friends with Chief Longoria for about a year. They met last summer when Donavon made a call to 911.
You can read about the beginning of their friendship here.
“I’ll see him around at school or something like that and I’ll say ‘Hi,'” Chief Longoria said. “It’s funny because sometimes in the morning she’ll  have a hard time getting him into the bus. He’ll walk to the bus and walk back and give her more hugs and kisses and he’ll take off and come back and do it again.”
Ralls is a small town of 1,900 people. Chief Longoria said he has gotten to know almost all the kids who ride the bus. 
“Actually one of them is always at my house playing with my kids,” Chief Longoria said. “So I have developed a pretty good relationship with him over the last couple of years. Also, there is another one that I actually helped remove from an unfit environment for the child.” 
“I know Donavon’s mom let’s me know on a regular basis that she appreciates me doing it,” Chief Longoria said. 
Donavon also let Chief Longoria know how much he appreciates him when he surprised the Chief and his officers with gift bags a few weeks ago. 
“We have pretty good citizen support here,” Chief Longoria said. “But to know the kids appreciate it as well as the adults it makes us feel like we are doing the right thing here.”