Editor’s note: These are the stories of our police officers that need to be shared. They happen every day in every city. They are exponentially more common that the incredibly rare “bad apple” stories that dominate the headlines.
These experiences don’t fit the mainstream media narrative, which is why so many of them go untold.
Today … the journey of one cop who decided to put his gut before what some departments would consider “procedure”… and the life he touched as a result.
So I’m working a traffic grant overtime gig and pull over a beat up Honda with “tag applied for” plate.
Those are bullshit here in Alabama anyway. No car dealer puts those on cars. I’m not sure where anyone gets one of those.
So, the driver is a Katrina refugee. Alabama is full of them. He relocated here years ago and lost contact with his son. He and his ex did not communicate, and he owes back child support. (I won’t go down the rabbit hole of not paying child support.)
Louisiana won’t reinstate his license, so he can’t get an AL license, he’s behind on his car tag, and he’s living in an Extended Stay hotel.
His son is now 19 and the boy’s mother is deceased.
Anyway, the guy is dirty from head to toe. He’s working for a temp service that has him assigned to a local brick company. The brick company likes his work so they decided to hire him.
He’s awaiting results of pre-employment screening, then he gets bumped from minimum wage to $15/hr. For someone in his position, that is life-changing. It’s a humble living even here but it will get you an apartment and cover the basics.
So, he may have been a smooth talker and trying to get one over on me but the way he spilled it all I could tell he was struggling.
I ran him and he had no criminal or driving history in Alabama.
Giving him three tickets and towing his car would not have taught him anything (except we are heartless), and it certainly would not have helped him.
I asked if he was on break. He said “yes” and he was headed to the ATM to check his card balance before going to McDonald’s, which was right beside us.
There he was standing there in front of me with nothing to lose, yet giving me all the respect I didn’t get on my last few stops.
I said, “Follow me to McDonald’s.”
He said okay, thinking we were just getting off the road.
I told him I wanted him to get the job and get a decent place to stay and get his son up here.
He said that’s what he was trying to do.
So I told him instead of writing him, I was going to buy his lunch.
In total shock he bent over and welled up in tears.
“You would do that for me?” he asked.
I said, “Yes sir, if it will help you out.”
I got him two Big Macs, a drink and an apple pie for later. Truth be told, the second Big Mac will probably be his dinner.
He told the cashier that I was some kind of angel, and told them, “Don’t believe anything negative about police.”
We walked out, and he hustled off back to work, driving with no DL, tag and expired insurance.
He was all smiles and waves as he passed me. If I got suckered, then that guy needs an Oscar.
If not, then we all just got a little better reputation.
– Sgt. A. Merica