SARASOTA (FOX 13) - Officer Scott Patrick with the Sarasota Police Department deals with a lot while on duty, but one simple exchange made his heart grow.
"A car stopped and pulled up here. It was a blue SUV and it caught my attention," he said.
The driver inside the car was honking the horn in the middle of traffic.
"I started walking towards the car because I thought he needed help with directions," said Officer Patrick.
What happened next would change him.
With traffic backing up behind him, a large man got out of the car.
"He said, 'I just wanted to say thank you.' It caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting that, and he goes, 'can I give you a hug?' It took me a minute because that's not something you hear in 13 and a half years. It's not something you hear at all," said Officer Patrick.
He only told the officer his name Washington. Before he left, he had one last message.
"He said, 'be safe and go home to your family,'" Patrick recalled.
After Officer Patrick's brief but thoughtful encounter, he went to Facebook and posted about it in hopes someone would take something good away.
"I wanted to spread it to everybody who would hear it, that it really goes a long way if we could all just forget about all the negative stuff," he said.
On Facebook he wrote this:
As I was walking into the Police Department to turn in some paperwork a blue SUV pulled up and stopped in the middle of the roadway. This caught my attention as I try and be aware of my surroundings at all times especially in a day and age where officers are targeted simply for wearing a uniform. I looked back at the vehicle and as I did the driver honked the horn. I assumed that he needed assistance with finding the courthouse or parking garage, which is a common question I get from people. So I turned and walked towards his vehicle.
As I approached the vehicle, the driver opened the door and stepped out. He was very tall, well tall compared to me because I am only 5'8". He immediately said "Thank you officer, may I give you a hug?" He walked toward me with both arms opened. This is not something I have heard very often in my 13 1/2 years as a police officer. Catching me off guard I hesitated for a moment and then said yes. I walked up and he gave me a huge hug! I immediately teared up and struggled to say thank you back to the man without my voice cracking.
The man then said "get home safe to your family and thank you again for what you do." We shook hands and hugged again. I said my name is Scott and he said his was Washington. He then walked back to his car and drove off. I went inside the police department with tears running down my face and had to take a few minutes to compose myself in the hallway. This man's random act of kindness overwhelmed me so much because it is not something that we as law enforcement officers hear or see often. As I reflected about what just happened in that hallway I thought back to the moment I saw that man. I saw a "man" just a citizen, I thought he may need help and I wanted to assist. I didn't see the color of his skin or his age or religious preference. I just saw a human being, just like I do on every call for service I go on. He saw me as a human being that just happens to be a cop. In case you're wondering "Washington" was a black man and I am obviously a white cop.
The reason I am writing this post is to share this story and bring a smile to your face and hopefully encourage others to show support to those that protect our society everyday without question. We do so regardless of race, creed, or religious background. We protect everyone equally! So please repost if you would like and remember that ALL LIVES MATTER!! Not just black or blue or whatever you are. We have to stop labeling people! We are all humans! God Bless America." -Officer S. Patrick
Officer Patrick said he hopes everyone takes it to heart.
"We get up every day and do this job because we care about our community and our country. We are all human beings and, if we all treat each other how we want to be treated, it will go a long way," he said.