KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville police officer was unknowingly caught on camera responding to a call on North Broadway last week, and what she was caught doing was shared to social media many times.
Officer Dana Crocker said she was on patrol when she got a call about a man in distress, flailing his arms and walking along North Broadway, possibly intoxicated.
Around 10:15 a.m., she found the man sitting in front of the Arby’s in Fountain City.
“So when I pulled up, it appeared he was in some distress. So I pulled up and got out of may car and I was like ‘hey, what’s going on?’ And he was like, ‘I’m starving,'” Crocker said.
Arby’s was closed at the time, so Crocker said she offered to pick up food from Sonic for the man.
“I was like ‘well, how about Sonic?’ And he was like ‘yes, Sonic. I’d like a double cheeseburger with ketchup and and a large, the biggest Dr. Pepper you can bring me.’ So that’s what I did,” Crocker said.
After bringing the man in need some food, Crocker continued talking with him and realized he was barefoot.
Crocker helped him with that too.
“I tried to call a couple of local churches that might have some assistance with clothing and nobody had anything. So I went to the store and found him a pair of tennis shoes, and some socks and a T-shirt. He needed a new T-shirt,” Crocker said.
It was at that point when a bystander took notice of the situation.
Danielle Trent posted in a Facebook group about what she saw Crocker do.
“This photo may not look like much, but what you are seeing is a man without shoes and a dirty shirt on. He was sobbing in the parking lot. Right as I made up my mind to go over and see what I could do to help, this police officer pulled in and gave him a pair of shoes and a new shirt,” Trent’s post read.
Crocker said she didn’t buy the man food, shoes, socks and a shirt to attract attention.
She said she and other officers respond to similar calls often and how they respond can’t be based solely on what information they receive from dispatchers.
“Sometimes they are intoxicated. Sometimes it is a mental illness and with our experience, police officers know this. You know, we can’t go in just going on what the dispatchers tells us or what other people observe. We just have to go check on people and make sure they are okay,” Crocker said.
She also said she’s not the only officer doing good deeds behind the scenes.
Crocker said officers aren’t only there to enforce, but they also protect, help with social work, and really, just try to help people any way they can.
“It’s not just me, it’s not just the Knoxville Police Department, it’s officer everywhere. If somebody needs something and we can help, that’s what we try to do,” Crocker said.
Trent said it was a breath of fresh air to see such kindness in the world right now, and she was glad her children were able to witness it as well.
“This was a wonderful thing to witness in the world we live in today. It also, gave me a moment with my kids to teach compassion and a lesson on choices we make in life. I don’t know this mans back story nor do I know his mental status I just hope and pray he takes this gift to help him with future endeavors,” Trent’s post read.
Crocker said even the man in need knew he could trust someone in the uniform.
“He said um, ‘people call on me all the time and if I need something I know you guys will come and help me.’ And he said, ‘just like God sent you this time, he’ll take care of me,'” Crocker said.
She said that after she gave the man food and clothes, he was good to go.
Crocker said she did offer to get the man in touch with local resources, but he declined.
When Crocker isn’t patrolling the streets of Knoxville, she is patrolling the hallways in Knox County Schools as a student resource officer.