Cart Builds Bond Between MGPD Officer, Maple Grove Teen
Aug 09, 2016 09:51PM ● Published by Wendy Erlien
Maple Grove resident Paul Kochenderfer and Maple Grove Police Officer Dave Goggins. (Photo by Doug Erlien)
When Maple Grove resident and high school student Paul Kochenderfer started his lawn care business this spring, an unexpected obstacle ended up taking a turn toward gratitude.
Hoping to raise money for scout camp and college, Paul reached out to his northern Maple Grove neighbors during the spring and secured a few lawn care clients for the summer.
“My grandpa loves to build things, so he built me a cart so I wouldn’t have to go back and forth [with the lawn care equipment],” he said.
The business was continuing along smoothly until one day, Paul left his equipment temporarily outside at his client’s house to return home for his trimmer. When he returned a short time later, he found the wooden cart his grandfather made was gone - and he was the victim of a theft.
Paul called the police and was connected with Maple Grove Police Officer Dave Goggins, the responding officer for the incident.
“I was confused, angry,” Paul said about the theft.
“The way he was telling his story, I could tell it [the cart] was important to him.” Officer Goggins said. “After I got off the phone with him, I started talking to the dispatcher a little bit and she said the same thing....he couldn’t believe this would happen.”
After listening to Paul share his story, Officer Goggins decided to build a replacement cart. While off duty a few weeks later, he pulled together leftover wood materials from a deck project at his house - and a new cart was built. He planned on delivering it as a surprise, but happened to drop it off just as the family was returning home.
“I came home from my church youth group event and Officer Goggins was there with a cart. I felt really grateful. It’s awesome,” Paul said.
“I wouldn’t have expected the outcome that it was,” said Paul’s father, Bob Kochenderfer. Moved by the gesture of Officer Goggins, Bob mentioned it to Maple Grove Chief of Police Eric Werner at a Maple Grove Rotary meeting. Later, the family wrote thank you letters.
No one in the Maple Grove Police Department knew the cart he built for Paul. “I was stunned...out of pride,” Chief of Police Eric Werner said about hearing the story about the department’s officer, stating it is an example of the character throughout the department. “We take pride in connecting with community, getting to know people -- and the good things we can all do together,” he said.
“It was was a cool thing to do. It wasn’t something I was expecting - it really lifted his [Paul’s] spirits. It is a good example of something positive happening in our community.” Bob said.
"A lot of times, we don't get to see outcomes of things that we do," Officer Goggins said. "I know we have a great impact on people's lives, but a lot of times we don't get to see the final result. I didn't do this because I was looking to get anything out of it. I just wanted to help this kid out. I started out when I was 14 [years old] mowing lawns - I know what that's like, working in the heat. I just thought 'I've got this stuff sitting around' and I'd be happy to do it and make things right for him."