Officers Resnick and Paolo prepared for a tough day on the job after they responded to a call about squatters living in an abandoned house. They knew folks in bad situations could get aggressive. What they didn’t realize was that they’d get a chance to show mercy and kindness, which ultimately made them famous.
Dan Resnick and Vincenzo Paolo are cops from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On a chilly October morning last year, they got called to check out a home by 29th and Locust. The house was abandoned, but a neighbor called in claiming people were inside, possibly squatting inside the residence.
As Resnick and Paolo arrived at the house, they noticed the condition this derelict home was in and it wasn’t pretty. They found the entrances shuttered on the outside and broken windows too. There were also piles of clothes, as well as a porch full of garbage. They were shocked when a pregnant young woman greeted them.
The young woman ushered them in, and the cops knew right away that the living conditions inside the house were not suitable for anyone. The house had no heat, no plumbing, and no electricity. The broken windows made the house very drafty. As the officers glimpsed even further, they saw mattresses sprawled on the floor, as well as more clothes and rubbish. So, the officers talked to the woman.
She explained to the officers how she had lost her job, forcing her to move into this house because she had no other option. As Paolo continued talking to the woman, Resnick inspected every room of the house. In one bedroom, he saw a mattress full of sheets. He approached it and pulled one of the sheets up. That’s when he realized that he wasn’t alone in the room.
Resnick found a two-year-old boy, sleeping between the sheets and he had on three winter jackets. But the officer knew that it wouldn’t be enough to keep him warm during Milwaukee’s chilly October weather. He took the boy into the main room and gave him to Paolo, while he interviewed the mother. Paolo knew right away that the boy needed to get warm fast.
Paolo took the boy and placed him in his squad car to get him warmed up. As he made his way out of the property, he looked for food, but all he found was a bag of chips. He sat inside the vehicle and placed the toddler on his lap. Then he fed him the chips, but soon realized that the child couldn’t eat the chips.
The child couldn’t fit his hand into the bag because the layers of the jackets made his arm really thick. So the cop decided to feed the boy the chips instead. The chips were gone in seconds, so Paolo called another cop and asked him to buy some chicken nuggets and fries at a nearby McDonald’s, which put a big smile on the child’s face.
Resnick noticed Paolo sitting on the driver’s seat with the child on his lap as he came out of the house. He could tell the boy really liked his chicken nuggets. “He was very hungry,” said Paolo during a news conference. “He scarfed it down.” Resnick added, “He really liked the fries.” Resnick chose to snap a photo of his partner’s heartwarming moment with the toddler. But he didn’t know that the photo would make news.
Resnick forwarded the photo to the wife of officer Paolo, Mel Williams. Paolo and Williams have five adopted kids, which were originally Milwaukee area foster kids. He made a joke about adopting another child. But the photo became an inspiration, and when it was posted on the police department’s Facebook page, the attention it got was absolutely insane.
The photo of officer Paolo and the toddler received 4,000 likes and was shared more than 2,000 times, and it went viral. Folks were pleased with how this cop tried making a bad situation a little better for the child who was vulnerable. Officer Paolo and Resnick were dubbed heroes, but they certainly wouldn’t agree with that.
Paolo said, “We don’t want recognition. It’s just what we do because we’re dads, we’re people. We don’t just do it because we’re police officers and it’s our job.” In fact, the police officers put their parenting skills to good use to keep the child busy and happy while Resnick finished talking with his mother.
Paolo explained, “He was playing with my bracelet. My daughter made it for me and I always wear it to work. I was trying to do anything I could to occupy him and kind of take his mind off of what’s going on.” It’s tough for Paolo and Resnick to see children in difficult situations, because they’re parents, especially when they can only help so much.
Paolo continued, “It hurts my heart when I see children like this. It’s unfortunate, but we see this quite often.” If it were up to him, he’d take every needy child with him, but that’s just not possible. However, the small gesture he and Resnick provide the son of the homeless woman did make a difference. And now, the boy doesn’t have to live in an abandoned house anymore.
The police brought in social services to help the homeless young woman out, and they’re currently helping her find a new home. Meanwhile, her two-year-old is in foster care and the folks in Milwaukee are glad to have two cops who take the law into their own heart and add some humanity and compassion to the mix while they’re on the job.