HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – On every Huntsville police vehicle, you‘ll see the words “To Serve and to Protect.” Police departments around the country share that motto. We found a good example of what that means, thanks to a viewer.
When there’s an emergency, we call the police. But officers respond to more than life or death situations, like one at a Jordan Lane business. HPD Field Training Officer Nathan Hubler recalls, “Someone was calling on a man at the Walmart that was in a wheelchair with groceries, and they were just worried about his safety.”
So were the officers. Officer Garrett Crumby remembers the night well, “It was dark. He was going to be walking down a heavily travelled road at night in inclement weather. So, it just made more sense to me to just give him a ride.”
A storm was on the way. “His plan was to walk home pushing the groceries in his wheelchair,” Hubler told me, “It’s a two-minute drive but it would have been a 20-minute walk for him.”
So, they put the man in a police cruiser. Officer Scott Hartman said, “He already had him loaded up and with all of the gear that’s in the patrol car, myself and Officer Hubler figured that there’s no way the wheelchair would fit so the logical thing was to just put it in our backseat and we’d just go down there with him and then help him get his groceries in his house.”
They made it just in time. Officer Crumby adding, “When we were unloading his groceries, it actually started to rain.”
The man they helped remembers that night too. “I said thank you. I appreciate it,” Reginald Rice told me, sitting in his wheelchair on his front porch. The 51-year-old saying, “I have multiple sclerosis.”
Reginald’s thankful a good Samaritan saw something and said something. “She called the police for me and everything,” Reginald said, “And I’m glad she did that cause I had a lot of groceries.”
His MS mostly affects his legs. “I’m doing good though,” he told me, “I’m doing real good.” He uses his wheelchair to exercise and get around. The 20-minute walk home that night would have been a challenge. “Right, and actually she was looking out for me,” he said, talking about the lady who called for help.
Another good Samaritan in the parking lot that night, Steve Walker. He helped us find Reginald so we could share his story. It took several weeks, but when he found him, he walked up and asked Reginald his name. “I said, yall looking for me? I didn’t know I was missing,” he said before bursting into laughter.
Despite living with MS, Reginald says each day is a blessing. “I thank the Lord every time that wakes me up this morning,” he told me, “And that’s not gonna go nowhere.”
The day we were visiting, two of the officers stopped by to check on him. “This job’s not just all about fighting crime,” Officer Hubler said, “It’s just about helping people in need.” And in this case, making a new friend along the way.