Video of officer giving hungry panhandler cash and a hug goes viral

(Photo Provided/Whiteland Police Department)

WHITELAND, Ind. (WISH) — A video showing interaction between a Whiteland police officer and a panhandler has gone viral. But it’s not because of violence, it’s actually the opposite. The video shows the softer side of law enforcement.

Instead of giving the panhandler a ticket, the officer gave him cash and a hug. It’s a story that has gone beyond the community of just 4,700 people. The video has been viewed more than 53,000 times and that’s just on the police department’s Facebook page.

Whiteland police officers always have their body cameras rolling. That was no different when officer Tyler Croy saw a man begging for money on Whiteland Road near I-65. In the video, you can hear their conversation.

“What does your sign say,” Officer Croy asked.

“Homeless. Please help. God bless,” he said.

Croy could’ve given him a ticket, but instead he went above the call of duty and asks, “Are you hungry?”

The man nods his head yes. Then Croy says, “I got three bucks, okay? Alright, go Arby’s. Go to McDonald’s. Get yourself something from the dollar menu. Get you a drink or get you water. Whatever you want.”

Next, Officer Croy offers something that those three dollars couldn’t buy: comfort in the form of a hug.

“Are you crying on me? It’s alright. You’ll be fine. Here, come here. You’re good,” said Officer Croy.

The man replies, “It sucks out here, man.”

Officer Croy said it wasn’t about the power of the badge. Instead, it was about the power of humanity.

“He got emotional on me. When that happened, I kind of took my uniform off, took the badge off and I kind of just played human for a second. It’s like, here’s a guy who is obviously down on his luck, and gave him a hug,” said Croy.

A hug and perhaps much more than that.

“Everyone has a future. When you have those types of interactions and you have a chance to change someone’s life, even by just a hug, it’s awesome,” said Croy.

The Whiteland Police Department has been receiving numerous calls from area businesses that want to discuss employment with the man. Police are working on contacting him to follow up.

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