TALLAHASSEE, FL — It was just another day on the beat for a Tallahassee police officer who stopped to help a homeless man shave and get cleaned up for a job interview at a fast-food restaurant. The act of kindness was caught on video and Officer Tony Carlson was hailed as a hero.
Hold on, Carlson said during a news conference Monday. Similar acts of altruism happen every day across the country and a reminder that "we’re peace officers first and law enforcement officers second."
"This isn’t … something spectacular," Carlson said at the news conference. "It happens all the time. It just so happens that this time, somebody caught it on film."
Carlson happened on the homeless man, whose name is Phil, in the parking lot of a Tallahassee gas station as he struggled with a malfunctioning razor he’d picked up at a secondhand store. As the story unfolded, Phil had applied for a janitorial job at McDonald’s, but was told he would need to be clean-shaven.
Carlson tightened up some screws on the razor, but without a mirror, Phil was still having trouble. So Carlson offered to shave the man’s thick beard for him.
"If he’s wanting to help himself, I need to be more than helpful and try to help him out the best I can," Carlson explained, adding: "Hopefully from this, Phil will get a job."
Phil was excited to get the unsolicited help with a shave and joked that Carlson should be a barber.
"You might want to check in the mirror before you tell me I need to be a barber," Carlson retorted.
The video, which Greg Wallenfelsz shared on Facebook, has been viewed more than 220,000 times and prompted hundreds of comments and thousands of shares.
"I thought it would be nice to share with others this selfless act of kindness this officer showed a stranger," Wallenfelsz told CNN.
Kelly Duvall, whose daughter snapped a photo of Carlson giving the homeless man a shave, told the network the "officer’s simple act of kindness is touching so many lives."
Local radio personality Greg Tish caught up with Phil, who said a manager at McDonald’s "told me if I can show up Monday clean with my beard cut off, they’ll promise me a job."
He plans to get his Social Security card and identification at a homeless shelter on Thursday.
"I’m going to do it," Phil told Tish.
Here’s the video of Carlson helping Phil shave:
Lead photo by Creativ Studio Heinemann / imageBROKER/Shutterstock