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A true gift

Here’s a great Christmas story from the news:

A New York City police officer got a Christmas gift of $3,000 from homeless people who wanted to thank him for standing up for them.

Officer Eduardo Delacruz was suspended for 30 days without pay last month after he refused a sergeant’s order to arrest a homeless man found sleeping in a parking garage.

In gratitude, organizations for the homeless put together the fund for the 37-year-old officer, his wife and their five children. Homeless people also contributed change scrounged from passers-by, money earned from recycling cans and bottles, even a portion of their welfare checks.

“We just wanted to thank him by contributing however we could,” said Joe Bostic, one of 30 former and current homeless men and women who announced the gift. “And a lot of us gave quarters, nickels and dimes.”

According to police, Delacruz told his superiors in the police department’s Homeless Outreach Unit that he would not arrest a homeless man for trespassing on Nov. 22 because the man had nowhere else to go.

The man was arrested by another officer and pleaded guilty to trespassing.

In a statement Tuesday, the Police Department stood by the suspension and said Delacruz had been punished for failing to comply with a lawful order.

Homelessness has surged to record levels in New York in recent months, and advocates have filed a lawsuit claiming the city is trying to sweep the homeless off the streets by having police arrest them.

Arrests of the homeless are up, but police deny there is any concerted effort to push them off the streets.

The check was made out to Delacruz’s wife to avoid creating a personal conflict for the officer. The suspension cost him about $3,600 in net pay, said his lawyer, Norman Siegel.

Siegel said the officer was back at work Tuesday but was “very moved” by what the homeless did. The officer and his family “specifically asked me to say, ‘God bless everyone, especially the homeless,'” Siegel said.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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4 Comments

  1. I’m not sure how the legal system in NYC works. Doesn’t arrest provide the homeless person shelter and meals for the time they are in jail awaiting a hearing? Are there separate facilities for this in jail for minor crimes v. serious charges (i.e., harmless v. dangerous holdees)?

    I don’t mean this to be a stupid or heartless question; but given what winter up north is like, I’d assume that jail is better than the streets.

  2. Randy Paul says:

    Homeless shelters here in New York have had a reputation for danger. As far as going to Riker’s Island, the Tombs or the streets, I think I’d take my chances on the streets or if I could rustle up $1.50 the subway.

  3. Jack Cluth says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours. I only hope that Santa was as good to you as he was to me!! Cheers….

  4. Still, I think it is incorrect to say the man “had nowhere else to go.” He could have gone to jail for the night or to a homeless shelter, and while neither of those are desirable, sleeping in a cold parking garage isn’t comparatively safe. While I suppose it’s a nice gesture that the homeless rallied around the officer, he still acted improperly and in defiance of the law.