‘I don’t do it for the credit’
By Melanie Ruberti
For LaGrange Police Officer Wendy Bryant, policing the city streets is not much different than watching over her own family.
Bryant, a handler with LPD’s K9 Unit, works alongside her husband Cpl. Clayton Bryant. He is a member of the same unit.
The husband and wife, who playfully nicknamed their home “the compound,” have four children, guardianship of Wendy’s niece and three dogs. The couple also houses their patrol dogs, “Rik” and “Chico.”
The Bryant’s are raising their five children to care for others.
“I make them go through their clothes to give to the less fortunate – and they know those clothes are going to the needy and are going to help somebody,” Wendy explained. “A few weeks ago, my youngest son went through the toys he doesn’t play with anymore and told us we can give them to Goodwill or people at church.”
That giving spirit is what motivated the couple last week when they encountered a 14-year-old boy on the side of Lakewood Drive during a bike ride.
“We noticed he was off his bike and looking at it,” Wendy said. “As we passed by, we asked him if he was okay and he gave us the thumbs up he was fine.”
But six miles later, on the couple’s return trip, they saw the teen again – this time he had the bicycle upside down and was attempting to fix his back tire.
Wendy and Clayton stopped next to the boy and identified themselves as LaGrange police officers.
Clayton immediately noticed the bike was broken and asked the teen if he needed a ride home.
Wendy had another idea.
“I said to him (teen), ‘Hey, I’ve got a brand new bike of my step son’s that’s brand new, would you like to have it?’ You could tell he was taken aback by it all,” she said.
Wendy gave the teen her phone number and later spoke with his mom.
Clayton dropped off the teen’s new bike the next day.
“He was excited. I don’t think he fully thought that we would bring the bike or that would be in such a good condition,” Clayton stated.
The teen’s mom was also surprised – and grateful.
“They (Bryants) brought him the bike the next day … my son is usually a skater, but here lately I can’t keep him off the bike. He loves it,” said Ginger Fuller. “They’ve (Bryants) also called him and checked up on him.
“He’s only 14-years old, and with all the violence that is happening in the world and bad news, this was something good,” she continued. “I think it restored his faith in police officers and people.”
Clayton does not take any credit for the act of kindness and instead put the spotlight on Wendy. Her plan to gift the teen with a new bicycle is just the tip of the iceberg, he stated.
“I’ve seen her pay for a hotel room with money out of her own pocket to give a homeless person shelter for a night,” Clayton said. “She spearheaded Paw Day and went door to door for donations … one time, a family’s wardrobe was stolen out of local laundry-mat. I told Wendy about it … and she went to Walmart and bought a few days’ worth of school clothes for the children … paid for it out of her own pocket.
“These are the kinds of things I see every day that no one else gets to see,” he continued. “Wendy never takes credit for it.”
The officer also cared for a small child involved in a wreck on Lafayette Parkway. Though Wendy was off-duty, she stopped to tend to the toddler while paramedics cared for her injured mother, Clayton said.
“She said she was hungry and really scared,” Wendy remembered. “So I ran over to Wendy’s (restaurant) and got some nuggets. That seemed to calm her down. I let her play on my phone until they could transport her mom.”
While Wendy was willing to talk about the incident, she seemed uncomfortable with the attention surrounding her good deeds.
She explained why.
“I don’t do it (good deeds) for the credit,” Wendy said. “If I can show people that police officers are humans and there is good out there … and bring the community together … that’s enough.”
“Wendy cares about our citizens, young and old, and is committed to making a difference,” stated Police Chief Lou Dekmar.
Wendy credits her upbringing – in particular her grandfather.
“… He would help people better themselves … he would give you the shirt off his back and not ask for anything in return,” she remembered. “I want to do that too, to be able to say I did everything I could to help people. He was a good role model.”
She tries to pass on that same message to her own children and the people she meets while patrolling the streets of LaGrange.
Clayton said his wife inspires many people with her selfless acts of giving – including himself.
“Overall, she makes me a better person,” he stated. “With the bike incident, we both wanted to help him (teen), but she was ready to give to him. She was already thinking about the bike sitting in our shed that was rarely used …”
“I would hope others would do the same thing if they saw my kids on the side of the road,” Wendy said. “I hope he (teen) realizes there are good people in the world that want to reach out and help others … I hope we can all open our hearts to spreads love and not hate.”
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.