PHOENIX, Az. — During an outreach mission back in December of 2016, officers Steve Fluty and Matt Morgan stumbled upon a yard covered in garbage and scattered with debris.
The yard was attached to a small home in Phoenix that was otherwise well-kept.
It turned out the home belonged to an elderly couple who had moved into the house 29 years ago, when the house wasn’t only bordered by mountains and palm trees, but also by a solid fence that provided the couple with privacy and safety.
Over the years, the fence deteriorated and fell down. The couple, whose last name is Wascher, did not have the money to replace the fence, and therefore fell victim to trespassers, including many homeless people that used the Waschers’ yard as a place to reside.
The trespassers used the Waschers’ hose for water and their backyard as a restroom and a campsite. Despite the couple politely asking the homeless people to leave on several occasions, the trespassers remained in their backyard, and the Waschers, too afraid of possible repercussions, couldn’t force them to go.
The officers worked to help the couple by removing all of the homeless people in the yard and organizing a clean-up in December. Two tons of litter and debris were removed in the clean-up effort.
Officer Fluty added the home to his normal patrol route and continually checked up on the couple, making sure the yard stayed clean and vacant of unwanted visitors.
Despite Officer Fluty’s efforts to protect the couple’s home, one of the homeless people returned and brought another half-ton of garbage. The person was arrested for trespassing, yet the officers knew this didn’t mean the trespassers would stop coming altogether.
So the officers decided to take their efforts a step further and raise money to get a new, permanent fence built for the couple.
Officer Morgan reached out to Shannon McBride of the Open Door Fellowship Church who was able to collect enough donations to fund the project and find people to donate the time and labor needed to build the post holes for the fence. Home Depot also joined in on the effort, selling the supplies for a reduced cost.
Officer Morgan coordinated City Neighborhood Services to get dumpsters delivered to the area, while Maricopa County Adult Probation sent out clean-up crews.
On Feb. 24, members of the 64X squad built the Waschers a new fence.
The couple was overjoyed and extremely appreciative of the joint effort by the police department, local businesses and the community, all led by the two officers who saw the project to fruition after they found the home one day three months ago.