A mother of four was illegally panhandling when a state trooper turned his vehicle around to question her. Luckily, a bystander was there with a camera ready to capture the encounter when the officer thought no one was watching.
Fate hasn’t been kind to mother-of-four Lynn Murphy, who has struggled just to get by. Eventually, she found herself homeless, which led her to fully rely on the charity of strangers as she panhandled in Massachusetts. As dangerous as this activity is, it’s also illegal in most areas. Unfortunately, the location she chose was off-limits.
When the down-trodden mother saw a state trooper drive by as she held her cardboard sign, she probably knew she was in trouble. After several minutes passed without incident, her concern for a police encounter faded. However, her heart sank as she soon saw the same vehicle return, slowing to a stop just feet from her.
Having just left civil court, Trooper Luke Bonin stepped out of the SUV in civilian attire and approached Murphy. Fearing a citation she couldn’t afford, she apologetically blurted out that she wouldn’t cause any problems and would vacate the area immediately. Before she could even stand up, the trooper interrupted her with a shocking statement.
“But Trooper Bonin told her, ‘I’m not here to kick you out,'” the Massachusetts State Police wrote on their Facebook page. “He then extended the two meals and told her to pick one. They then sat, shared a meal, and a conversation.”
Although Murphy didn’t realize it, Trooper Bonin had noticed her when he first passed by. However, instead of turning around and citing her for illegal panhandling, he drove straight to a restaurant and ordered food for both of them, WBZ-TV reports. He then returned to have a “picnic” with the woman and, perhaps, get some information about her situation.
“I thought he was just going to hand me the meal but when he said, ‘Come around the back, it’s such a beautiful day, we’ll have a picnic,’ I thought that was, it touched my heart,” Murphy said.
Trooper Bonin sat and chatted with Murphy while they finished their lunch. While their conversation has remained between the two of them, the act of kindness certainly hasn’t. Fortunately, a passerby noticed the pair and snapped a photo to share on social media.
As the two were enjoying their meal and chatting, Jake Morse drove by and took a picture of the scene, posting it to a Facebook group in Fall River with the caption, “And they say chivalry is dead… Much respect. He just stopped, could have given her a hard time, and didn’t. And, we need that.”
Morse’s post quickly caught the attention of the Massachusetts State Police, which issued a statement honoring the trooper for going above and beyond the call of duty.
“Yes, Trooper Bonin, we know you do not want or expect publicity. We know you didn’t want to be noticed, but you were, and the job is proud of you. We commend you for your selfless act, and for ‘doing the right thing’ for someone less fortunate than most people.”
Lynn Murphy has since expressed her gratitude for Massachusetts State Trooper Luke Bonin’s simple act of kindness.
“He didn’t know me from Adam. I’m a homeless panhandler. And he took the time out of his day, went and bought us lunch, and had it with me,” she said.
Of course, it wasn’t just the meal. Murphy was taken aback by the officer’s compassion and genuine caring. He wasn’t even on the clock and had spent all morning in court, yet he took the time out of his day to sit with her.
Homeless individuals and panhandlers are often treated as the dregs of society. However, Trooper Bonin saw someone who was suffering and decided to take the time to remind her that she is a human being who has value. Of course, the hot meal was equally important.
Trooper Bonin proves that there are good officers who truly care for the individuals they have sworn to serve and protect. At a time in which law enforcement officers are routinely painted with a broad brush as villains, it’s vital that we give them honor when they go above and beyond just wearing the badge.