TUKWILA, WA — Some people would have turned and walked away, but not a couple of kind-hearted police officers in a Seattle suburb who saw a young lad walking through a park with only a torn pair of dirty socks covering his feet, one of which was bleeding from a cut.
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“Sergeant Modest” and “Officer Bashful,” as they were called on the Tukwila Police Department Facebook page, patched up the boy’s foot with their first aid kit. But where were his shoes, they asked.
He didn’t have any. He had outgrown his only pair.
“The sergeant ran out and grabbed a pair of shoes for him while the officer kept him and his friends company,” the post said. “He came back with not only a pair of shoes, but also with a bunch of Popsicles because what isn’t better than a cold Popsicle on a hot summer day?! The officer helped to tie his new friend’s shoes and they all enjoyed a Popsicle together before parting ways.”
The post was widely shared, and in a new entry Tuesday, the police department said what its officers did “is no different than what officers do daily all over the country.”
“It is representative of the small acts of kindness that occur daily between police officers and members of the communities that they serve nationwide,” the post said. “A small gesture such as this one or the countless other gestures of kindness that officers do daily goes a long way towards building rapport and trust with every member of the community regardless of their socioeconomic status. We are a part of the community that we serve and are proud to have such amazing men and women in our ranks that truly care so much about those that they serve.”
Tukwila police spokesman Victor Masters said the boy wasn’t in danger beyond his bleeding foot.
“There was no abuse or neglect suspected on the part of his parents, and he did not voice any concerns regarding his parents or his home life,” Masters told Yahoo Wellness. “It was mainly a case of a child that did not have basic everyday necessities that many of us take for granted.”
The youth’s situation wasn’t much different than the 12 percent of Tukwila School District students who are homeless, an alarmingly high number compared to the rest of the country. According to federal Department of Education statistics for 2017, 2.5 percent of elementary and secondary public school students are homeless
“As a region, we have seen housing and cost-of-living rates go up drastically over the past 10 years,” Masters told Yahoo. “As a result, more people are having to get by with less to cover the rising costs of living. Our officers encounter people in need, people in mental crisis and those that struggle to get by daily.”
Masters said it’s not unusual for police officers to use their own money to assist people who don’t have enough money to get buy.
“The same sergeant, who has been with us for 13 years and got this child a pair of shoes, has done so on multiple other occasions for homeless residents and those in need that he has come across,” Master said, adding the officer once bought shoes for a homeless man he saw limping down the street because his shoes had no soles.
Efforts to help some of the most vulnerable citizens of Tukwila are a “collaborative effort” among multiple agencies, including the Tukwila Fire Department, the Tukwila Human Services Department, Sound Mental Health and countless other government and non-profit organizations, the police department said on Facebook.
Photo via Tukwila Police Department