He may have not known it when he did it, but Odessa Police Cpl. Jeremy Walsh’s gesture of kindness has brought him unwanted attention — in a good way.
The two-year veteran of the police department had his picture taken as he proceeded to give a homeless man — whom he identified as Anthony Young — a pair of new boots and a bottle of water.
The picture, posted on the City of Odessa’s public Facebook page, was shared early Monday morning. Walsh said the event actually happened two weeks ago.
“I had some extra boots at my house and they’re actually a size too small and I found A.J. and saw if he wanted them,” Walsh said of the exchange. “I figured he could use them a lot more than I can.”
Walsh said the gesture is anything but random, saying he knows the transient man as one of the many he sees during his patrol.
Calling him “rugged” and “private,” Walsh said the idea came to him one day after he noticed the soles in Young’s shoes were worn out, and decided to offer the boots that he had at home to the man.
But Young, Walsh said, is not the type of person who accepts things from people. In fact, Walsh said Young sometimes becomes agitated when people try to “force” items on him.
But because of the rapport between them, Walsh said he was able to convince him to accept the shoes; but only at Young’s request that he eventually pay the patrol officer back.
“He likes to do the one-for-one sort of thing,” Walsh said.
Ronda Fox, whose family owns Odeli’s, said she was the one who took the picture of Walsh and Young after she saw the police officer take the pair of boots out of the trunk of his patrol vehicle.
Fox said she originally posted the picture on her Facebook page, not intending for it to go viral. The only reason the picture started showing up on other social media pages is because of her friend Crystal, she added.
“My husband is like, ‘You’re a celebrity,’ ” Fox said.
Fox described Young as a good person who does not like to accept handouts and does not ask customers coming into the store for money. The only items Young will take are food if they are offered by the restaurant’s staff.
“We called the Jesus House and they said he won’t accept any help,” Fox said.
While Walsh denies his act was something special, adding he tries to help as many people as he can, Odessa Police spokesman Cpl. Steve LeSueur said the photo was good way to show the other things that police officers do.
“I think the public views police, unfortunately, as dealing with negative situations,” LeSueur said. “This is a different side of police work the public never sees.”
When he was on patrol himself, LeSueur said he made a point to get to know as many people as he could —business owners, homeowners and the homeless.
While most officers also do similar acts of charity on their beats, LeSueur said what Walsh did was “above and beyond” what most officers do.
“I think it’s a good thing,” LeSueur said.
Walsh said he will continue to see Young while he is on the streets, and said he will continue to try to help those in need when he can.
“I’ve always had a pretty obscure way of helping people,” Walsh said. “I do what I can.”