LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – One La Crosse police officer has been honored for a special deed of compassion. First News at Nine’s David LaClair spoke to that officer to learn about his act of kindness.
At first, the video appears routine. Officer Conner Hjellming of the La Crosse Police Department responding to an area drug store for a report of shoplifting. There, he encountered the female suspect.
Officer Hjellming of La Crosse Police Department said, “I just started talking with her and actually this day was the first snowfall we had and she admitted that she was homeless, she didn’t have any gloves and hat and she was freezing out on the street.”
The latest numbers from the national alliance to end homelessness say more than 49-hundred people in Wisconsin are regarded as homeless on a given night.
That is why La Crosse Police works with shelters like the Catholic Charities of La Crosse’s Warming Center to help get less fortunate the items and services they need.
Toni Van Kirk, Catholic Charities Warming Center Coordinator, said, “The winter months are very cold here and some individuals just don’t have the money to buy them so they can get them here for free. A lot of individuals in our shelter need them, but also individuals who are not in a shelter who are still homeless in the community.”
So, on this night, there wasn’t an arrest, but an act of compassion.
Officer Hjellming said, “At that point, the gloves and hat were still in my hand and I told her she shouldn’t be doing this and she’s nodding, and I said alright I’ll buy these for you. Then this look of shock just shot over her face, so we walked up to the register and she asked if I was serious.”
Hjellming issued a no-trespass order, but also felt it was only right to step in and help.
“The way I was raised, the way I was brought up, and just kind of the way I think about the world is that we’re all human beings, and we need to look out for one another,” said Officer Hjellming.
It was a gesture of goodwill that cost Hjellming close to 10 dollars, but it’s the reaction that’s worth much more.
Officer Hjellming said, “Officers do this every single day, it just happened to be my video that ended up finding its way out of the woodwork, but this isn’t an isolated incident, we try to do stuff like this every day.”
A move that Hjmelling says anyone can make on any given day.
In La Crosse, David LaClair, First News at Nine.
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