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Fifth-grader hits police Facebook site for emergency homework help

Photo illustration (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic).

Photo illustration (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic).

The nation's cops, it's fair to say, face some real conundrums in the course of their duty. But a math quiz sent by a 10-year-old student? Well, that could be a first.

Lieutenant BJ Gruber was updating the Facebook page of his police department in Marion, Ohio, recently, when a message popped up from fifth-grader Lena Draper.

"I'm having trouble with my homework, could you help me?" Lena asked the cop.

Lt. Gruber, though surprised to receive such a request, decided to do his bit for community relations and lend a hand.

Speaking to BBC Radio on Wednesday, Gruber recounted the incident. "So I'm posting stuff and trying to get ready for the following day when she came at me with a math equation. My first thought was, 'Man, this isn't my favorite subject, I'm more of a history guy.'"

Lena's first problem was (8 + 29) x 15. Gruber, confident that his elementary school math hadn't entirely deserted him, responded: "Do the numbers in the parenthesis first so in essence it would be 37 x 15."

The next one, however, caught Gruber out: (90 + 27) + (29 + 15) x 2

"Take the answer from the first parenthesis plus the answer from the second parenthesis and multiply that answer by two," the cop messaged.

Gruber, who's also served on drug task forces and SWAT teams in his 23-year career, admitted to the BBC, "I forgot what my elementary school teachers taught me." Had he recalled, the cop would've told Lena to add the numbers in the second parentheses and multiply the answer by 2, and then add it to the sum of the numbers in the first parentheses.

Despite the error, Lena's mom, Molly Draper, told ABC News it was great that the cop helped out. "I didn't believe her and asked for a screenshot," Molly said. "I thought it was pretty funny. And I love that they went ahead with it."

We just hope Lena solved the second question correctly before handing it to her teacher.

The social media efforts of Gruber and his team are one of several initiatives by the Marion Police Department aimed at building good relations with the local community. Its work caught the attention of government officials and led to an invitation to the White House last summer to take part in discussions on how to improve policing at a local level. In light of recent events, it seems that helping kids with their homework is at least one way to boost their reputation -- though they may need to brush up on their math skills first.