Sheriff’s Deputy Swallwell from Alameda County got a call about a homeless man panhandling on the freeway off-ramp.
He wanted to give him a citation, but after a conversation officer helped the panhandler to get his life on track.
It was November 2, 2017. Deputy Jacob Swalwell was at the corner of Foothill Blvd and Mattox Road in Hayward, speaking with Michael Myers, a 67-year-old panhandler.
It was not the first call regarding Myers begging money on the street. Swalwell got tired of constantly warning him, and this time the deputy intended to give the homeless man a citation. When they began to speak, this intention changed.
The Deputy decided to do everything to get Myers back on his feet
Turned out Michael did not even have an identity card. Police officers often hear that excuse, but Swalwell felt that Myers was sincere.
He was not like ordinary panhandlers the officer often had to deal with. This man had neither criminal records, nor abuse history.
What is more important, he made several attempts to get off the streets several times. But with no birth certificate or ID, it is almost impossible to get a job, let alone a bank account.
Eventually, Myers completely gave up on the system. He panhandled three times a day for each meal and ate at local McDonald’s or Wendy’s.
“I started to get to know more about him and I realized he didn’t need a citation, he needed someone to help him,” Swalwell told CBS SF.
Homeless Myers completely gave up on the system
That day, the Deputy decided to do everything to get Myers back on his feet — help him to get an ID and obtain the birth certificate, which the homeless man had never seen.
That task was not easy. All Michael knew was that he was born in Oakland, and nothing else about his early childhood.
A few weeks later, Swalwell finally obtained a copy of the document. Myers looked at it with amazement: turned out his first name was Gordons, Michael was the second. He also learned information about his parents he did not know.
To obtain an ID, Myers had to prove he was a California resident. To provide enough documentation, sheriff’s department turned to a local church. Together they were able to prepare the papers needed.
Two months after that life-changing talk at the corner of Foothill Blvd and Mattox Road, Myers restored his state of government.
“It’s the least we can be doing for these people as law enforcement officers,” the Deputy said.
Myers is simply happy for the unexpected help from a stranger that gave him hope for a new life:
“We both realized at the same time that there is a real person there and not just the stereotype we saw when we first met each other”.
Featured image: Alameda County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook, CBS SF Bay Area/YouTube