Nova Scotia

Photo of police officer sitting on sidewalk with street person gets big response

'Totally awesome to see!' tweeted passerby who posted photo.

'Totally awesome to see!' tweeted passerby who posted photo

As a community officer, Const. Shawn Currie said it's part of his job to get to know people in the area and help them solve their problems. 1:07

It was a sight that made passerby Bruno Baurin stop and take a photo. 

A Halifax Regional Police officer was sitting on the sidewalk with a street person on the city's busy Spring Garden Road Thursday.

"I saw the two of them having a conversation and I thought, 'That's totally awesome,'" he told CBC's Maritime Noon.

"It was nice, they were at the same level." 

Community constable

Const. Shawn Currie is the officer in the photo, and said he didn't know about the picture until his wife saw it online and sent it to him. 

"We were just talking about what's going on in his life right now," Currie said. "I've known him for nine years."

As a community constable, Currie said it's part of his job to get to know people in the area and help them solve their problems.

Man plays violin for spare change

Currie said the man plays the violin for spare change on Spring Garden Road almost every day. 

"That day he was doing his yoga, preparing to play the violin," Currie said. "So I thought it was better and easier for him if I sat down with him."

After Baurin posted the photo on social media, it was shared hundreds of times.

"We tend to hear, on a daily basis, a lot of negativity in life—but then you see something that strikes you in the moment," Baurin said.

"It makes people have a conversation and it might turn into something."

'They can make mistakes'

Baurin pointed out that buskers and panhandlers in Halifax have been in the news lately. Several city councillors have raised concerns that some people who ask for change are too aggressive and are scaring people away from downtown Halifax. 

Currie said it's important to keep people safe, but also to remember that street people are human.

"That one bad interaction might not be who they are," he said. "We don't know what happened that day. They are human, they can make mistakes."  

Big reaction online

Currie said the popularity of the photo made him realize that people need to see more of police interacting with people on a human level rather than a professional level. 

"We're always seen as the enforcer," he told Maritime Noon. "But that [photo] is the every day. We sit in a coffee shop, we sit on a wall — wherever it is that we need to have a conversation with someone and it's comfortable."

​This isn't the first time a photo with Const. Currie has gotten a big reaction online. Last year, a photo of him giving a "ticket" to a three-year-old biking on the Halifax Waterfront went viral. 

With files from Maritime Noon