Teen Walked to Work, Never Complained — and Someone Noticed

Local police pulled him over, for all the right reasons

For months, 18-year-old Jourdan Duncan of Vallejo, California, a high school graduate, walked a total of over five hours a day alongside a busy roadway to get to work and back — and did all of it without complaint.

No one even knew he was walking to work each day.

“I admire that. Just keep doing what you’re doing,” a police officer told the teen.

Duncan works at Pro-Form Laboratories in Benecia, California, and is saving money for college, he told The Washington Post. He is hoping to someday be a police officer with the California Highway Patrol. “It’s something I’ve been interested in since high school,” he said of a career in law enforcement.

Duncan had to find another way to get to work in July, after both the timing belt and an engine valve broke on his 2001 Volvo. At first he hitched a few rides from friends and co-workers; soon, he felt like a burden. “I didn’t want to always call somebody and be like, ‘Hey, can you pick me up?'” he told The Post.

The first time he plotted out his route on Google Maps, he saw it would take him two hours and 15 minutes on foot.

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Nevertheless — on he went, starting in mid-summer. “The whole way there I just had my earphones in, kept quiet, and I just power-walked the whole way.” Gradually, his pedestrian commute became easier.

Enter Corporal Kirk Keffer of the Benicia Police Department. On patrol a few weeks ago, he saw Duncan hoofing it down the road alone. It was after 11 p.m., Duncan was approaching a highway overpass, and it was an industrial area.

Keffer stopped his patrol car, got out and yelled to Duncan, who explained he was walking back home to Vallejo. He had just finished up his shift, working the packaging line from 3 p.m. until a little before midnight.

Related: Teaching Kids to Respect Police

“Vallejo? That’s like seven miles away,” Keffer said he remembered saying to Duncan, according to The Post.

Duncan never told his parents he’d been walking. They thought their son was getting rides every day.

“I was just like, ‘Wow, Jourdan, that’s really impressive, your dedication and your hard work,'” Keffer said. “At age 18, that’s a good work ethic to have, and I said, you know, ‘I admire that. Just keep doing what you’re doing.'”

The officer didn’t let it go, though. He told his shift supervisor, who, like Keffer, is a board member of the Benicia Police Officers’ Association. “‘He’s walking five hours a day, and I think it should be rewarded. What if we help him out?'” he said.

“I want to prove that all cops aren’t bad,” said this teen.

They emailed the rest of the board to get approval to buy the kid a bicycle. The cop was soon inside Wheels in Motion, a local bike shop. Shop owner Greg Andrade helped Keffer pick out a $500 Giant-brand bicycle — and appreciated Duncan’s story so much he also donated a lighting system, brake light, and helmet.

The following Monday night, Sept. 19, Duncan’s supervisor called Duncan off the line. Some policemen were outside waiting for him. The boy wondered if he had done something wrong — then saw Keffer, along with some other police officers. And then he saw the bicycle.

The bike was a token of their gratitude, the officers told the hardworking young man. “We would like to acknowledge your hard work and dedication for what you do and [for] setting the example for kids your age,” they told Duncan. They hoped the gift would make his commute easier.

Duncan said he was overwhelmed by the gesture, and by the media attention that followed.

Keffer said that was precisely what propelled him to help Duncan out — and the teen said he’s much more at easy with his commute now. “A lot of my family members, they’re in law enforcement,” Duncan told The Post of his hopes for a career in law enforcement. “I want to prove that all cops aren’t bad.”

Related: Bringing Police and People Together for Good

Archbishop Council Nedd II, rector of St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Pine Grove Mills, Pennsylvania, also serves as a Pennsylvania state constable. He was pleased but not surprised by this story.

“I think the main reason people want to get into law enforcement is to help the community,” he told LifeZette. “And there are so many things that cops do on a regular basis that go completely unnoticed — I’m not surprised this happened, and there are countless other stories like this that don’t get any media play.”

Nedd thinks Duncan would make a fine police officer. “Clearly he is dedicated, and he’s focused on doing what is important, even if it’s not easy. I don’t know that many 18-year-olds that have that much commitment to anything — let alone a job — and walking that far to work every day.”

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