COLUMBUS (WCMH) - Columbus Police Officer Matt Dunbar is being recognized for the selflessness and generosity he continues to show to a man who was once homeless.
On Wednesday, Ofc. Dunbar was presented with the Bryan Hurst/Tony Luzio Officer of the Month Award from the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge #9 and United Dairy Farmers.
Ofc. Dunbar met Mike Miller and his service dog Sookie back in June outside the YMCA in downtown Columbus.
“I walked outside on that particular day and I saw Mike with his service dog sitting outside on the sidewalk," said Ofc. Dunbar.
That's when the two got to talking.
“I said, ‘How do you take care of your dog if you don’t have a place to stay?’ Well, he opened up his backpack and there was some food in there but most of it was a bag full of canned dog food," said Ofc. Dunbar. "I realized right then he’s a pretty good person. He’s taking care of his dog more than he is himself.”
Then, Ofc. Dunbar realized he could help Mike.
“We went from first deciding to give him clothes to deciding to give him a place to stay," he said.
Out of his own pocket, Ofc. Dunbar paid for some hotel nights for Mike and Sookie. He also helped him find temporary work.
“Just one police officer, within the 15-20 minute time period of talking to this man has changed my life," said Mike. "I just can’t thank him enough.”
Since June, Ofc. Dunbar's wife and mother, along with the community have helped pay for their shelter and food.
“It’s the right thing to do," said Ofc. Dunbar. "For so many years, I’ve been locking up people that are felons. I’ve been putting people in jail and I’m at a different point in my career now where if I have the opportunity to find someone that’s decent human being, I’m going to take the time to do it.”
Now, Mike said the only thing that would make his life complete is permanent employment.
“If it wasn’t for him, we’d still be sleeping downtown up under a bridge and trying to find out when we’re going to eat next," said Mike. “I have a comfortable bed to sleep on at night. I have my baby, Miss Sookie. She’s happy, I’m happy."
Ofc. Dunbar has been on the police force for about 16 years. He's been assigned to Zone 3 on the west side of Columbus for the last two.