When a Washington state man saw a sheriff’s deputy along the side of the road, he thought it was odd. So, he decided to take a closer look at what he was doing. When he figured it out, he took a picture, revealing something the officer never expected others to find out.
Darren Ballard Sr. of Tacoma, Washington, was sitting in traffic next to a police car when he noticed something out of the ordinary. An on-duty sheriff’s deputy caught Ballard’s eye, and he snapped a picture. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much of anything. It appears to be just a photo of a sheriff’s cruiser sitting on the side of the road. But, a closer look reveals the cop is also captured in the image, sitting in a patch of grass, all but hidden by a tree.
Although it’s difficult to make out, the officer is next to someone, and there’s a lot more going on in the picture than initially meets the eye. Ballard had captured a genuine act of kindness from a concerned officer. “I just couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said. “I look over and there’s an officer in uniform, sitting on the grass, sitting with a homeless guy sharing a sandwich and I was just blown away.”
“Just saw this cop having a sandwich with a homeless guy … wanting no attention just doing a good deed,” the Pierce County man wrote as he posted the image to Facebook. “There are good police officers out there … this made my day, please share!” And, share they did. It didn’t take long for the photo to spread like wildfire with thousands of shares from social media users, including one from the local sheriff’s department where the deputy works.
As it went viral, more information emerged about the cop and his unlikely friend. The deputy, who wished to remain “anonymous,” found the homeless man panhandling and struck up a conversation with him, according to Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Ed Troyer, explaining the story behind the viral photo. “Our deputy asked him if he was hungry the man said he was. So the deputy sat down with him and shared his lunch with the man,” Troyer wrote on the department’s Facebook page, according to CBS News.
Troyer adds that these types of incidents are actually common, happening “quite often” in his department, which prides itself on compassion and respect. But, he appreciates the scene being shared none the less. “It’s nice for the police, who do handle their job with the utmost passion and respect in the field, get a break with some good positive news for a change,” he said.
Such integrity isn’t unique to Piece County either. Across the country in Jackson, Tennessee, a similar scene was captured by Elizabeth McClain, and it’s something she will never forget. After spotting a homeless man sitting at the side of the street with his backpack, Elizabeth felt sorry for him because he looked hungry. But, before she knew it, a police car stopped and an officer approached the man.
Imagine sitting on the side of the road with everything you own, fitting in a backpack, Elizabeth said in a Facebook post with the picture. “You’re lonely and hungry. You put your head down to try and forget the scream of hunger echoing in your mind. Then you hear the sound of an engine stop,” she wrote, describing what she witnessed. “You look up to see a uniformed officer walking towards you. Your mind flutters thinking of everything you might be doing wrong. Suddenly this officer sits down pulls out lunch and not only takes away your hunger but your loneliness too.”
Elizabeth didn’t know the officer, but she knows he made a difference, not only to the homeless man but to her and the way she thinks as well. “This is the side of law enforcement no one sees,” she said, reminding others that we are all human and deserve love and respect. “So share this,” she continued. “Show this officer that his act of kindness didn’t go unnoticed.” Indeed, these officers are excellent examples of what it really means “To Protect and Serve.” Hopefully, their generosity and selflessness help others see what most cops are all about. Many are more than willing to sit with members of their community on a personal level, offering not only their service but their friendship, too.