Share Kindness

Big-hearted cop hailed after he's recorded buying homeless man a new pair of boots

He didn't do it for the karma, and he certainly didn't do it for the attention, but Kenya Joyner can expect some of both to come his way.

Joyner, an officer with the Delaware River Port Authority, became a minor celebrity last week when instead of arresting a homeless man who had been kicked off a bus for not wearing shoes, he bought him a new pair of boots.

A commuter videotaped the exchange Saturday afternoon at the PATCO station in Lindenwold, N.J., and it went viral.

“Basically, I believe in treating people the way you always want to be treated,” Joyner, 43, told TODAY. “If somebody needs help, I have no problem lending them a hand. It seems natural to me.”

Kayla Palmer of Pine Hill, N.J., had her cell phone video camera out as the shoeless man sat on a bench and tried on his new $50 black work boots.

Palmer told NBC10 she posted the clip to Facebook so Joyner would get the attention he deserved.

“Because you do see some of those negative stories,” she said.

“That was nice of you,” she tells Joyner on the video that garnered nearly 1 million views over the weekend. “I wanna shake your hand. You’re gonna go viral!”

“Oh, come on,” Joyner laughs.

The kindhearted cop was on patrol when he saw a bus driver waving his arms to get his attention.

DRPA/NBC10
Kenya Joyner, an officer with the Delaware River Port Authority, was videotaped buying a homeless man a pair of boots last week.

“He had a disruptive person on the bus,” he said. “Riders going without shoes is against policy.”

Joyner took the man aside and asked him where his shoes were.

“[He] appeared almost embarrassed,” Joyner said. “In a low mumble, he said he didn’t have any. I asked if he wanted sneakers or boots. He stated he wanted boots.”

The officer went to a Payless store across the street to rectify the situation.

The man seemed appreciative and Joyner went back to his regular duties. He hasn’t seen the man since.

“I never even got his name,” said Joyner.

RELATED: Boston salon offers homeless women free haircuts — and a boost of self-worth

Joyner, who lives in Wilmington, Del., has served on the transit force for eight years, but this is not the first time he has been commended.

In 2013, he was honored for helping a woman in a medical emergency on the train.

“I didn’t do anything different than any other officer would do,” he said of Saturday's events. “A lot of people don’t realize that the action you saw on the video is something very common among police officers.”

RELATED: Police officer provides homeless family with shelter and food on his own dime

DRPA’s director of communication Kyle Anderson told TODAY that Joyner is “extremely shy and humble.”

“It’s a great story and he’s a great guy,” Anderson said. “Passengers have been walking up to him and hugging him and congratulating him. He doesn’t understand why what he did is a big deal and attracting so much attention.”

John Hanson, DRPA's chief executive, praised Joyner in a tweet: "I am so proud of this DRPA/PATCO police officer and our entire police department!”

Good policing and good values run in Joyner’s family, he said, attributing his altruistic nature to his parents.

His father is a retired sergeant with the Camden police force, and his mother is a retired nurse.

RELATED: Georgia trooper helps raise over $470K for recent orphans after Halloween tragedy

Joyner said he decided to become a police officer so he could be “face to face with people in need.”

Still, he said he's fully prepared for fellow officers to give him grief for all the attention.

“For the most part they have been congratulating me,” he said. “But luckily, this week I have been on vacation and they haven’t been able to get to me yet.”

TOP