Lake Wales Police Officer Replaces Stolen Bike For Local Fifth Grader
by James Coulter
When Officer Edward Palmer learned that a Lake Wales fifth-grade student had his bike stolen, he decided to help the young man by buying him a new bike to replace it.
Community Liaison Officer Palmer was informed of the situation by Carolyn Wright, a mental health facilitator for Polk County Schools. She knew he was the right person to contact about the problem, as he had previously served as a school resource officer, and he had used his position to help countless students in need.
“I’ve seen him in action and knew he would have a solution,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “There are AMAZING Officers who service both the Polk County schools and the community. I wanted to be sure to highlight one of the finest…He has touched many lives with his kindness, honesty, and genuine heart for people.”
Wright told Officer Palmer about the young boy whose bike was stolen. He told Wright to have her and the boy meet him at the Walmart in Lake Wales on Monday at 1 pm. When they arrived, Palmer gladly purchased for the boy a new bike.
“The only thing that made sense was to get it replaced, and that is what I did,” Officer Palmer said. “I bought that bike out of my money. Sometimes we think too much, and nothing gets done. I am a definite believer that what you put out, you will get back.”
Officer Palmer had been working in law enforcement for the past 25 years. He has served in many positions in many departments, including as a school resource officer. He currently serves as a community liaison. He pursued his career to help others, and he upholds his position with the utmost sincerity.
He and his fellow officers perform their duties because it is their duty, and they go above and beyond because they know it is the right thing to do. He does not seek recognition. He simply wants to help people.
For example, one of their favorite pastimes is participating in the annual Shop With A Cop initiative, where they go holiday shopping with disadvantaged youth and buy them a holiday gift. Being able to help the community through small efforts at that is a reward in and of itself, he said.
“It is part of what officers do,” Officer Palmer said. “It is not something we look for acknowledgment…We just do what we can to make a small dent. The biggest thing is that, even for me to sit here and talk about all the things that I have done, that is not normal. That is not why we do it. We do it because it needs to be done.”
Officer Palmer was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and he moved to America at age 13. Ever since he was young, he wanted to become a police officer, and his parents tried to dissuade him from becoming one.
Upon graduating high school, he attended college to study electrical engineering. However, while working at a clothing warehouse, he conversed with many officers, and he was inspired once more to pursue a career in law enforcement.
He started his career working in a small-town police department in Connecticut before eventually moving to Polk County, where he started his career in the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Working with young people through the school resource program, he realized that he had a gift connecting with the youth. Even outside of his career and outside the school system, Officer Palmer had taken the initiative to assist young people.
Janet Walker had him take one of her grandsons under his wing. Since then, Palmer has been a real blessing and formed a close relationship with the young boy. Walker said that her grandson even calls him when he has a bad day at school before he tells her about it.
“He is a godfather, a father, and a friend to us, to my whole family. He is a special man,” she said. “That is the kind of person he is. If he can help you, he’ll help you. He is a wonderful man…and I am glad God put him in my life. I really do. He is a special person.”
Tammy Woodford, Behavior Specialist at Roosevelt Academy, had worked alongside Officer Palmer on many occasions. He has helped collect more than 100 prom dresses for their prom closet, ensured that their food pantry and closet remain full with groceries and other necessities, and refurbished the school game room utilizing a grant from Walmart.
Officer Palmer even had prior experience providing students with bikes. Woodford said he would often take donations of old bikes and use his own time and money to refurbish them to donate to children and families within the local community.
“Palmer is one of those people who looks at the whole child,” Woodford said. “He’s more than a resource officer. He is a friend, and he is really concerned about the kid and their family and not only how they are doing at school but how they are doing outside of school…If a student was in need, he would not hesitate to take his time and personal time and money to meet that personal need.”
Whether it’s upholding his position with the utmost sense of duty or helping a local child in need, Officer Palmer has learned to take any opportunity that he has and use it to impact people positively.
“I make a point to do whatever I need to do to get there,” he said. “How do I keep moving forward? My faith. That is all we have anymore. Do the days sometimes get hard? Absolutley. But we need to have faith that the picture is bigger than ourselves. I have never been one to sit on the couch and watch the tv and complain. If I am not in the game, how can I complain? So here I am doing what I can.”