A police officer from Charlotte, North Carolina, has gained praise after a photo of him calming a distressed teenager was shared to Facebook.
The photo shows Officer Tim Purdy of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department at a local high school. The text below the photo reads:
Officer Tim Purdy was dispatched to a situation involving a young autistic high school student who left the campus and may have been suicidal. Due to the young man's neuro-developmental disorder, he also had a history of displaying violent behavior.
In order to build a connection with the young man, Officer Purdy sat next to him on the ground, talked things through and even got him laughing.
Officer Purdy established trust and a relationship that allowed officers to get this young man the help that he so desperately needed.
There's more to policing than making arrests and enforcing the law. Sometimes taking those extra little steps makes the biggest difference in someone's life. #CMPD #compassion
Sine being posted last Friday, the photo has been shared over 250,000 times. Commenters have praised Purdy's patience and kindness when defusing the situation.
The police department has since shared an interview with Purdy in which he states that he's glad the post provided some comfort for people with autism and their families.
"It's important that they understand that when there is a situation involving their son or daughter, that we can handle it without any harm coming to that individual," he said. "This is something that tens of thousands of police officers do every day, you just don't hear about it."
Rachael Krishna is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.