Green Bay officer's story mirrors that of boy he helped
A ride with a police man and some cheeseburgers at McDonald's: it's the recipe for the perfect birthday for a little boy.
Green Bay Police Officer Darryl Robinson is being praised for making these things possible for an eight-year-old who needed a lift on his special day.
On Monday, police received a call from staff at Howe Elementary School about a student who had just turned eight-years-old that day, but the boy had no one to pick him up from school.
"They said that his mother was incarcerated and there was no one on the emergency contact to pick him up," Officer Robinson says.
Robinson got a hold of the boy's grandfather and got permission to take the boy to McDonald's.
"So we brought the eight-year-old to a squad. He'd never been in a police car before and was very excited to ride in one," Officer Robinson says. "We gave him some Packer cards and little Green Bay Police tattoo. And then I brought him to McDonald's, got him a sandwich and then brought him home, turned him over to his grandfather and he had some other siblings there as well."
The owners of a locally-owned McDonald's had given officers free cheeseburger coupons to hand out during certain situations.
"He was excited, yeah. Looking at the toys they put in the Happy Meals. Just excited to hang out with a police officer and get away for a little bit," Robinson says.
Officer Robinson's colleagues posted the story on the Green Bay Police Department Facebook page. It has hundreds of shares and comments.
He says he's not one for the spotlight, but those positive comments on the post made him feel good.
The department has been flooded with comments from as far away as Canada. Some people are asking how to send the boy a birthday gift.
"And there's a lot of people who reached out. Some lady from Oshkosh called and left me a voicemail, saying that she wants to buy this kid some gifts and have us deliver it to him, and it's just things like that makes this job worth it," Robinson says.
Officer Robinson knows how this little boy feels. Former Green Bay Police Captain Bill Bongle showed that same kindness to a young Robinson.
"When I put him in a squad car and we were going to McDonald's, it brought back a lot of memories from when I was growing up. And Bongle was there in my neighborhood and he'd bring me to the gas station and we would get candy or whatever," Robinson remembers. "I think I met him on one of my birthdays when I was younger and he was, he always came around. If I needed someone to talk to or anything he was always there, helping me out. And he's the reason I wanted to go in law enforcement. I wanted the opportunity to do for another kid that he did for me."
Officer Robinson says he'll keep in touch with the little boy.
"I do plan on making contact with him in the future and checking on him and see how he's doing," Robinson says. "And if he wants to come tour the police station or see more stuff that we have to offer here, like the SWAT vehicle or other emergency vehicles that we have, and play with the lights and sirens, I'd be happy to do that with him."
Officer Robinson isn't sure if the little boy he helped wants to be an officer when he grows up. "If I can have the impact Bongle did for me, and he could choose a career in law enforcement and keep this cycle going, I think it would be great."
Officer Robinson invited Action 2 News to go on patrol with him. He opened up about growing up in Green Bay and how he dreamed about working for the department.
"It was my dream. I only wanted to work for Green Bay. I never applied to any other police department," Robinson says. "So if Green Bay wasn't going to have me, I was thinking about going back to school, getting a bachelor's and apply to probation and parole."
His patrol has taken him to familiar places.
"I used to work in the area where I grew up when I was on afternoon shift, but then when I came to mid-day shift, I'm still on the west side but now it's more of everything west of Oneida Street," Robinson says.
Robinson's mission is to make a connection with the community. He's seen it work with the young people, the way it worked for him.
"I've had it in the past where we show up and the parents are yelling to not trust the police or 'don't talk to them, they're only here to hurt us or break our family apart,'" Robinson recalls. "And you know, that's kind of hard, because that sticks with those kids. I've had a handful of times where the kid will pretty much tell their parents that they're wrong, which is good to see, but anything we can do to build that trust and make those connections, is great."