Two Columbus police officers who assisted a special-needs child found wandering in a local store earned commendations for their actions.

Officers Brandon Decker and Kelly Holley were dispatched to the Dollar General store, 3880 25th St., on Sept. 3 after the police department received a call about an unsupervised child. When the officers arrived, they determined the 4-year-old boy had a hearing disability.

Holley, who has been with the police department for 12 years, was able to communicate with the child using sign language and determined that he needed his diaper changed. Holley changed the child’s diaper and kept him calm by communicating with sign language. The officers secured food and milk for the child while they attempted to locate his family.

Decker, who has been on the department for eight months, offered to pay the business out of his own pocket and left $20 for the diapers, baby wipes, food and toys that were used. The child was later safely reunited with his family.

The officers were recognized during Tuesday’s Board of Works meeting by Police Chief Jon Rohde.

“Our officers possess a broad set of skills that enable them to professionally handle a variety of calls,” Rohde said. “Brandon and Kelly took the extra time to ensure that this child was cared for and eventually reunited him with his family. The compassion that they showed for this child is a testament to the work our officers do each day.”

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or