A Toronto cop is getting praise from the public after a resident spotted him buying a homeless man lunch.
Const. Ed Parks, a Regent Park neighbourhood officer, says he was on patrol when he noticed a man panhandling on a corner of Richmond and Sherbourne Streets on a cold day last week.
He stopped to make sure the man was okay and grew concerned when he noticed he was stuttering and mumbling his words.
"First question I asked him was 'how you feeling?'" says Const. Parks.
The man told him he was diabetic.
"I said 'how's your sugar?' says Parks. The man told him it was low, so the officer asked if he'd like to go for a coffee and a cookie.
The pair walked over to a Tim Hortons nearby and the light snack turned into a full lunch after the homeless man told Parks he was hungry.
"This is something that all of us do," says Parks. "It may mean that you reach into your own pocket and provide what assistance you can... it wasn't the monetary value that was important. It was the importance of being able to help another person, another human being."
The difference here is that a resident happened to catch the police officer's good deed in action.
The passerby sent an email to police praising the officer's work.
"Officers who go out of their way to ensure all citizens are okay renew my faith in the police," the resident wrote.
Police were able to pin down Parks as the one who went above and beyond his duty. They also managed to track down the man he purchased a meal for and reunite the pair.
Despite the accolades he's receiving, Parks says what he did was just part of the job of "community policing."
"A lot of times we get hit with the negativity in policing ... but we don't always catch the officers that are at the parks playing with kids, volunteering at the hockey rinks to teach kids how to skate, going to the basketball courts and playing basketball. You don't always see that."
As a neighbourhood officer, it's Parks's job to maintain close ties with residents, but he says officers are just as much a part of communities that they watch over.
"We're no different than anybody else. I'm a father, I'm a husband," says Parks. "The gentleman who was out on the corner is possibly somebody's son, somebody's brother. I wouldn't want for my dad to ever be on the corner and be hungry and for somebody to drive by him if he was less than fortunate. I would hope somebody would do the same."
Const. Parks is one of four community officers assigned to the Regent Park area.
He says he's grateful to the resident who sent an email praising his actions.
"We appreciate being recognized for the services we provide," says Parks. "Besides the uniform, I was just doing what any individual should do. I was trying to help."