A North Carolina police officer has gone viral after a passerby caught a precious moment between him and a homeless woman.
On Wednesday, Chris Barnes posted a Facebook photo taken by his wife Cassie. According to Barnes, Cassie was on her lunch break when she spotted Goldsboro police officer Michael Rivers sitting on the side of the road with a homeless woman when she decided to snap a photo. The pair were sharing a pizza and soda as they conversed.
Barnes captioned the picture, “Cassie was out on her lunch break and observed Goldsboro’s Finest enjoying lunch with a homeless person. Law enforcement does so much for our community, with a lot of it going unnoticed. We see you Goldsboro P.D. Keep up the good work.”
The picture has been shared thousands of times on Facebook with people praising the officer’s actions. “Leading by example!! An awesome man!!” A commenter wrote.
“So heartwarming to see this photo,” another person said.
“Some of the best people are displaced and great are those who share with them,” someone said.
Barnes tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “I think people are doing something positive and what can be more positive than a police officer sitting down and breaking bread with a homeless woman on the side of the road?”
Officer Rivers, who is an 8-year veteran of the Goldsboro Police Department, recalls seeing the woman earlier that day. “I was leaving the parking lot of Walmart and she was standing by the stop sign,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Her shirt read, ‘Homeless the fastest way of becoming a nobody.’ I hated that she felt that way.”
Rivers says he spoke to her briefly. “I always try to talk to the homeless just to see how they got into their situation, you know? Because, like I tell everybody, it can happen to any one of us...at any given moment.”
After Rivers drove away, he circled back to ask if the woman was hungry and if she wanted food. She was honored by his offer.
Rivers bought pizza and Mountain Dew and when the pair sat down to eat, he learned of her family struggles and told her, “Hey, you still got stuff to live for...you still got your life ahead of you. It’s never too late.”
Rivers, who does recruiting for the Goldsboro PD, hopes to send a message of compassion for others.
“When the younger or newer guys come in, I let them know, ‘Hey, treating the community like human beings is the most important thing in the world,’” he says. “...And part of that message is, ‘You don’t have to charge everybody for everything.’ So if we as police officers show that love and compassion to everybody, no matter their age, financial background or race, the world would be a better place.”
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