SCHENECTADY - A city police officer received praise online Tuesday morning after a passer by snapped a photo of him stopping to play basketball with kids waiting for the school bus.
City resident Tracy Warner snapped the photo at the corner of Van Vranken Avenue and Mason Street as she traveled to work. Taken by the scene, she asked if she could take a photo from her car.
The resulting photo, which she posted to the Facebook group Straight Outta Schenectady, showed the smiling officer and kids, one of the kids holding a basketball. The photo garnered more than 200 likes through the morning.
"The kids looked so happy!" Warner wrote in a message to the Gazette.
"I'm sure all those kids had a great day at school, starting the morning off on such a positive note!!" Warner added.
After being provided with a copy of the photo later Tuesday morning, city police spokesman Sgt. Jeffrey McCutcheon identified the officer as Officer Eijah Washington.
Washington was working the city's Goose Hill neighborhood on the overnight shift into the morning.
Washington is relatively new to the force. He was one of eight new city recruits sworn in in January.
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He grew up in Schenectady and said after his swearing in that he always wanted to be a city officer.
“It’s my place, you know what I mean?” Washington said then. “This is where I live and this is the community I want to protect.”
Asked about Washington taking the opportunity to spend time with the kids waiting for the bus, McCutcheon called it great.
"Community engagement is a core value of the department," he said. "It's part of the job. Elijah is just doing what comes naturally to him."