LONGWOOD, Fla. - A Longwood resident said his view on law enforcement has completely changed after Longwood police officers went out of their way to help him when he was down on his luck.
On Thursday morning, Michael Guidry said he was cited for having high grass. “I have a bad back so I can’t do the yard and I don’t have the money to do it right now,” he said. Guidry said he was on the phone with code enforcement when he got emotional and the employee called the Longwood Police Department to conduct a well-being check on him.
Sergeant Bradley Tollas and officers Sean Piscitelli and Stormie Wherland responded to Guidry’s home where they said he became emotional explaining his situation. “He really kind of tugged at my heartstrings like, we had to do something,” Sgt. Tollas said. “He just seemed really overwhelmed.”
Tollas described Guidry’s lawn, saying the grass was knee-high in some parts and there was enough debris to fill a trash can. He said within minutes, Officer Wherland called her uncle who owns Ule’s Landscaping/Lawn Service and they came out to cut Guidry’s grass for free.
The three officers even picked up the trash before the landscaping service arrived. Officer Piscitelli said he was just doing his job to help the community. “We saw an issue. We were there. We had the ability to solve that issue and help him. We just took advantage of it.”
Guidry said he was skeptical when the officers first arrived at his house because he’s been in trouble with the police before. “[Sgt. Tollas] said he wasn’t here to arrest me or do anything like that and I didn’t believe him.”
The help did not stop there though. The officers found out Guidry’s electricity was about to be shut off Friday because of an overdue bill. Community Relations Officer Kimberly Feld called local businesses and Senior Intervention Group paid Guidry’s entire electric bill.
Guidry said the officers’ help has changed his negative perception of police. “It was public service. You know instead of taking some crazy guy who’s broken down and clearly causing problems for the community they helped.”
Officer Piscitelli said building trust in the community means a lot. “I think if you’re able to change the perspective of one person that’s one step closer to maybe putting it out there that we’re here to help.”
Sgt. Tollas said his squad will continue to check on Guidry in the future.