A Chicago-area police officer has been recognized for giving a homeless man the shoes off his feet after noticing the man desperately needed a new pair.
On June 8, Niles Police Officer Brian Zagorski and his partner Michael Dati noticed a homeless man was tripping over his own shoes as he tried to walk through a parking lot.
“He was having trouble walking,” Zagorski told KULR. “The rubber on the bottom of his shoes were folding underneath as he would take a step.”
Zagorski, who has worked for 12 years on the force, talked with the man. First, he offered him a bag of H.O.P.E., which is a small backpack is filled with hygienic supplies including toiletries and a blanket, but the man declined.
But Zagorski was determined to help the man, and offered up his shoes. The homeless man, clearly interested, hesitated.
“His eyes kind of lit up, kind of speechless. He didn’t say no, which was the first time he didn’t say no to me,” Zagorski said.
Zagorski asked the man what size shoe he wore, and the man told him: 10.5.
It was exactly the same size of Zagorski’s sturdy work shoes, and the officer persuaded the man to try them on and keep them.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) June 11, 2019
The Niles Police Department posted on Facebook, saying that the homeless man “stated he couldn’t believe the Officer gave up his shoes.”
According to WLS-TV, Dati snapped a quick photo of the exchange without his partner or the homeless man noticing, and the Niles Police Department later shared it on social media.
The public praised Zagorski for his act of kindness and soon the gesture that otherwise would have gone unknown was suddenly a national news story.
“I was happy,” Zagorski told WGN-TV of the exchange. “I made a difference, and that’s essentially what we sign up to do, is to make a difference.”
Zagorski ended up driving home barefoot to grab himself another pair of shoes, his heart confident that he had made the right choice.
Zagorski told CBS This Morning that “if you are given the opportunity to make a difference for someone in your community, you should do it.”
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