DENVER — A generous donation from a Colorado business owner to Denver Police District 4 not only helped put a roof over a man who had been living in his car, but will continue to help officers provide essential resources when they respond to calls.
More than a year ago, Jerry Daniel Langley Jr. lost his motor home and was forced to live out of his SUV. For eight months, he lived near S. Platte River Drive and W. Tennessee Avenue after his car broke down in the area.
“It was pretty bad,” Langley said. “I got stuck there by accident.”
It wasn’t ideal but he got creative and showered and cooked from his SUV.
“I thought for sure I was dead within a couple of months,” Langley said.
In late October 2020, Officer Ana Munoz and Officer Monique Sedberry responded to S. Platte River Drive off of W. Tennessee Avenue following an anonymous complaint. They approached Langley and introduced themselves.
“There was luggage, lawn chairs outside of his vehicle,” Officer Munoz said.
Langley’s whole life was packed inside his SUV. The officers chatted with Langley and realized he was in desperate need of help.
“We actually took him grocery shopping with our own money,” Officer Sedberry said.
The officers brought in their community outreach coordinator to help connect Langley with organizations in the community that could help meet his needs. During the process, the officers updated Bruce Odette, the owner of Carpet Exchange, since Langley was living just across the street from one of his buildings.
“It’s easy to look from the outside and just ignore that or not want to get involved, but it’s somebody that really needed help,” Odette said. “If I was down on my luck like that I would just be needing someone to help me out and give me a chance.”
Odette donated $2,400 to help get Langley into an apartment and then donated $10,000 to Denver Police District 4.
"They (the officers) cannot maneuver quickly to help these individuals, and by giving them a fund that they can draw from and quickly help these people with food cards or whatever else they might need, it just felt to me like it could make a difference," Odette said.
Langley moved into his apartment just in time for Thanksgiving, giving him access to the most basic human needs.
“It’s a very nice apartment," Langley said. "I can take a bath or take a shower. Very grateful. They saved my life.”
The $10,000 donated to the police substation will be used at officers' discretion. DPD Sgt. Chad Kendall said the money will help buy bus tickets, groceries, diapers, car batteries, and essentials needed in the communities they serve.
“A lot of times they (officers) just open up their own pocketbook — $20 for diapers here, or just a few dollars for school supplies,” he said. “This funding that Bruce has so generously donated to us allows us to do so much more. If we see a need we can instantly fix it or take care of really quickly."
He said he hopes having funds available to help people will also mend a strained relationship between police officers and residents and help rebuild trust. He adds that Langley’s story is an example of his officers taking the time to make a difference in someone’s life.
“It’s a feeling that we all sign up for as police officers, is to help people,” Sgt. Kendall said.