Note: we are republishing this story in light of recent reports across the country that suggest more and more Americans are having positive interactions with police officers despite changing attitudes about police departments and wider conversation about police reform.
A California police officer was on patrol when he spotted a teen dressed in all black walking around. When he stopped the teen and found out what he was up to, the officer knew exactly what he had to do.
Benicia, California, Police Cpl. Kirk Keffer was driving around when he spotted a teen dressed in all black walking a quiet street at night in an industrial part of town.
"The street that I caught him on is really dark, and there's no sidewalks," Keffer told FOX59. "And he was dressed in all black."
Keffer stopped to ask the teen some questions. His name is Jourdan Duncan and he is 18-years-old.
Keffer learned that Duncan was walking home after working a graveyard shift at Pro-Form Laboratories. When the officer found out where the teen lived, in the town of Vallejo, he realized that the walk would take about two hours and that much of it is uphill.
"So I said, 'If you don't mind, hold on a second.' I went over to me front seat, cleared it out, and asked him if I could give him a ride home," Keffer said. "He's like, 'You can do that?' I said 'Yeah, I can do that.'"
During the ride to Duncan's house, Keffer learned that he had just graduated high school and found an entry-level job with Pro-Form Laboratories after meeting an executive at church. Duncan's car had recently broken down and he could not afford to have it repaired or replaced.
"My car broke down, so I figured I had no other way to work," Duncan said. "I didn’t want to burden others by asking for a ride."
Duncan told Keffer that his ultimate goal is to go to college and to become a police officer. At the end of the ride, the two exchanged phone numbers.
When Keffer returned to his office, he told his supervisor that he wanted to do something special to help out the young man and reward him for his impressive work ethic.
"He's like, 'We can't get him a car.' So I thought what about a bike? He's like 'Yeah, absolutely,'" Keffer recalled.
The police association unanimously voted to gather the funds for a bike for Jourdan. Coffer picked out a $500 mountain bike that Duncan would need to "attack the hills."
Two days later, Keffer and some of his fellow officers surprised Duncan with the bike as he got off work.
"I can see him walking out of the warehouse area. And I was thinking I hope he doesn’t think he’s in trouble for any reason," Keffer said. "We said, 'Hey, we just want to recognize you for your hard work and dedication. A lot of people your age don’t have that. We just wanted to reward you and help you with your commute back and forth and we hope you will accept this bike on our behalf.'"
Duncan was shocked.
"I was just thinking, 'Is this really for me?'" he said.
Since Keffer surprised Duncan, the two have become friends. The officer has taken Jourdan on several police ridealongs and started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Duncan's college education. The page haas raised nearly $10,000 so far.
"Most people use distance and not having a car as an excuse not to find a job. This kid — it wasn’t an obstacle. He just wanted to get to work," Keffer said.