One evening, I was dispatched to suspicious activity at an apartment complex. The resident mentioned that she had a suspicion that a homeless person was rummaging around residences storage lockers and thought someone was living underneath the stairwell in a maintenance closet.

When officers found him, we discovered that he had been living there for the past 3 weeks. When asked what his story was, we discovered that he was from the Wilmer area and had nowhere to go. The man had lost touch with his family and was taking shelter by sleeping on the couches of anyone who would welcome him in. Looking into the closet there was a mattress, lamps, books, clothes, and other misc items he collected over the past few weeks. It was clear that this man had made this small space beneath the stairs, his home.

Per the property owner’s request, I transported him out of the city. While he was exiting my squad car, I asked if he had any food or money. He did not. This is when I gave him an MATTERbox containing nutritious ready-made food. When I handed it to him, he appeared to be taken aback. Even though I had to be firm and uphold the law, I also had a desire to show this man compassion.

As officers, we have the unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of every person we come in contact with, regardless of the reason for the interaction. I believe it is important to show a firm hand as an officer, but not to forget to leave opportunity for compassion and relationship building. This is what the MATTERbox represents to me.

The MATTERbox allows us to do our jobs, but also to show love to those who don’t expect it.

I think this will help my experience the next time I encounter this an individual in a similar situation, and hopefully, they will share the same compassion to someone else in our community. The MATTERbox also aids in building trust to show that police have compassion and truly do want what is best for our citizens.

Local Law enforcement in the 7 Metro Area began carrying the MATTERbox in 2015. Over the past year, officers have had the opportunity to pass out nearly 100 MATTERboxes to local Minnesotans in need. Stay tuned for more MATTERbox Impact stories from local officers, committed to making a difference in our local community.