Police officers can come across all kinds of situations when patrolling the streets. For one police officer in Arkansas, he thought he was seeing things when he found a pregnant woman and her toddler sleeping on the sidewalk. He learned the heartbreaking truth as to why she had been sleeping there, so he went out of his way to help the lady there and then—positively impacting her life from that day forth.
Tommy Norman, a police officer in North Little Rock, shared a photo on his Instagram account of a pregnant mom and her toddler sleeping on the sidewalk on June 23. He wrote, “After my coffee stop I begin making my early morning rounds. As I enter into the neighborhoods I see this. I initially passed because I thought I was seeing things.”
Recalling the situation to KTHV, Norman said, “I see a baby stroller but I didn’t see anyone laying next to the stroller.”
“So, I turn around and I see Jessica with Kayla laying asleep on her chest,” he added. “It took me a minute to gather myself.”
The officer later learned the name of the pregnant woman, Jessica, and that of her 2-year-old daughter, Kayla.
“It’s something I’ve never seen before,” Norman said.
Norman woke the mother up, and when she saw him, she was afraid.
“He woke us up,” recalls Jessica, chuckling. “I was scared I was in trouble or something.”
Norman learned that Jessica had fled from a “crazy, domestic violence marriage” and stayed at a local shelter. However, the duo had stayed the maximum amount of nights allowed at the shelter. So, they had no choice but to sleep on the sidewalk, as Jessica thought it was safer to be around people.
“I didn’t want to sleep on somebody’s porch, because, somebody might shoot you. That’s somebody’s private property. That’s why I lay on the sidewalk. I know it’s a busy street. So, probably nobody would want to mess with us,” said Jessica.
Seeing the heavily pregnant Jessica, Norman took her and her young daughter to a hotel so they could get some quality rest. Days after, Jessica met Norman once again, after giving birth to baby Xavier.
In the Instagram post, Norman explained his reason for uploading the photo: “This is not a post asking for assistance. It’s an image I decided to share to show that real life stories exist in communities across the world. Heartbreaking yes but hopefully an image that encourages others to get out & make a difference in their communities.”
His post soon went viral and people started responding by donating food and other items to Jessica.
“It’s amazing how many people have stepped up to make a difference to change this family’s life. Hopefully this family now realizes how many people around the world love them,” Norman said.
Georgia Mjartan, executive director of Our House, said that there are actually 21,000 homeless children in the state of Arkansas, and the community has to know how to help them.
“People ask me all the time what should we do when we see someone that’s homeless? I tell them to know the resources in their city, know that Our House is out there and know the different programs that are out there,” she said. “Five dollars is fine but give them five dollars and a resource of a place for them to go that cannot just change their life for a night but forever.”
Despite Norman’s great job, where he’s helped make a positive difference to this family, he’s agreed not to post anymore scenes he comes across whilst on duty to social media.
“There’s a policy in effect at the police department that prohibits you from posting on-duty that is now going to be enforced,” said Norman.
Norman’s work unit, however, certainly recognizes the great contribution he’s made to the community.
“The department greatly supports the work that Officer Norman has done and will continue to do in our community,” read a police statement.
And Jessica couldn’t be more appreciative of Norman’s warmheartedness.
“There’s still good people,” Jessica said. “Everybody’s been showing love. And, sending baby items and things for Kayla, and sending prayers and tears, and everything. It’s so beautiful. I’ve never felt this way in my life.”