Oregon Police Officer Shows the Real Face of America’s Finest

PortlandOfficerIt is a tumultuous time in American race relations. All over the country, press coverage of the police has been negative. In recent weeks, however, followers of social media have been opening their hearts to one Portland, Oregon officer whose photograph was captured by freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen.

Nguyen was taking pictures during a Portland demonstration held in response to the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He saw 21-year veteran Portland Police Sergeant Bret Barnum hugging 12-year-old Devonte Hart, and he took the shot. The picture has been viewed on the Internet hundreds of thousands of times.

Sgt. Barnum explains the interaction happened at the start of the protest. Speakers were addressing the crowd, and emotions were high. He saw a 12-year-old African-American boy with tears in his eyes. The boy was holding a “Free Hugs” sign.

The officer engaged the boy in conversation, talking about school and about life. After a moment, Sgt. Barnum pointed to Devonte’s sign and asked him, “Do I get one of those?” The photographer snapped the next moment, in which Devonte tearfully embraced the officer. Moments later, Sgt. Barnum returned to his duties, and Devonte rejoined his family and friends.

Devonte’s story is an inspirational one, as well. He was born addicted to drugs, and the first four years of his life were filled with extreme abuse and neglect. The Inquisitor reports:

By the time he was 4-years-old, Devonte had drank (sic) alcohol, smoked, handled guns, and been shot at. He’d suffered horrific abuse and neglect. He only knew a handful of words, and the two he used most can’t be printed in this article. He was violent. He had a long list of disabilities. Like so many other black boys born in the inner city, Devonte’s future seemed to have already been written for him.

Then he was adopted. His mother, Jen Brown, says the day they brought him home was frightening, and traumatic. She continues:

That night, after we finally got him to sleep, I cried harder than I had ever cried in my life. I felt like there was no way we could raise this child…

Yet, she says, there was something inexplicable pulling at her heart. ‘I felt more connected to this fragile little boy more than I had ever felt to anyone in my life.”

On Devonte’s 11th birthday, the one thing he asked for was the opportunity to raise money for charity, and that was his request again when he turned 12. One day in the grocery store, a cashier asked if he wanted to grow up and go into sports. He said he doesn’t know what he wants to be, but he does want to help people.

Sgt. Bret Barnum believes that will happen. He says, “I think this kid will be all right. No matter what is tossed at him.”

How Does It Feel to Know You’re Being Watched Right Now?

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  • Dandetailer

    Great story Thank you

  • Daniel Brofford

    I think God has something great for this young man. He has a good heart.

    • patriot 86

      A very special human being to be sure ‘may god bless him abundantly for his beautiful heart.

  • The Fox

    I was going to be a cop, passed all the test and was ready to go to training and my wife said if I did she would divorce me, so I didn’t, she saw how well that worked and said if I didn’t get rid of my motorcycle she would divorce me, so I did. I could have been a motorcycle cop she divorced me anyhow, LOL. I respect all police officers as they put their life on the line everyday to protect honest citizens and even the criminals who hate them. God Bless Them and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each and everyone of them:

    • patriot 86

      Ditto ‘ they are doing a job most of us would not want thrust upon us .What a beautiful story and how few of these the media ever shows ‘ all they want to do is paint all cops as bad and this just proves most are good .BRAVO

      • Bette Gilbertson Zimmerman

        That is because Obama or one of his henchmen tells the media what they can and can’t report.

        • patriot 86

          Exactly friend.

    • Barrustio

      I remember when I told my wife I was going to Houston to play music. She told me “you’re not playing with anybody”. I told her, “Come Monday, a friend is coming from Houston to help me pack my stuff to take there, you are welcome to come along if you wish, but whether you do or not, I will be leaving”. She had her stuff ready and we left for Houston together. It still didn’t work out and we divorced three years later. BUT I’m still playing music 43 years later. Moral of the story….don’t let anyone steal your dreams

      • The Fox

        I’ll be honest both God and I hate divorce, I didn’t take part in it, I gave my wife everything, house, cars, bank accounts and never went to court by the grace of God, my wife told me what my child support would be I told her that was insane and paid her twice what the courts said I owed per month and did until both daughters were out of University. One has her masters degree and the other working on hers. Never remarried and consider myself still married until either my wife or I are gone. One man for one women until death do we part that was my oath made before God and I live by it. Have a Merry Christmas Everyone and a Happy New Year to all:

        • Barrustio

          I also hate divorce and like you gave my wife everything and was actually living out of my car when we split. I even provided child support for her children from a previous marriage… had we stayed together one of us was going to be hurt or dead or going to jail. We divorced and I remarried years later because I felt I was entitled to some happiness in my life… yes I broke my oath before God but my God is very forgiving and I’m at peace with myself. I wish that peace and happiness for you.

          • Mike Lawson


      • Joe Toland

        I met my wife when I was playing music in a bar. Several years later she said I had to chose between my drums and her. I miss her sometimes……

        • Barrustio

          Heheh…I don’t know what it is about women who meet men who were playing music at the time they met, yet have the audacity to tell them they have to forsake that which brings them and brought them so much joy even before they mey. They expect YOU to change…to give up your dreams even though you never hamper theirs. Sick …just sick

          • Barrustio, I agree. Don’t understand why women (and I suppose there are men out there also) who marry someone already in a certain line of work and then divorces them because they couldn’t handle the work their spouse does…????

          • Barrustio

            Yep…I’ve heard of guys who fall in love with a topless dancer and then wnat her to quit…without providing another outlet for her to make the same money.

    • Milton W. Lowe

      I’m a retired cop. I wanted it when I was in early 20’s, got married, she didn’t want it…later at age 30 I did it & remained married about 12 yrs then got divorced…point: like the next writer don’t let anyone deny you your dreams. They may not last anyway…

    • Dynamicdave

      Sounds like she had it set in her head to come up with a reason to divorce you, regardless. Only one of you was commited, although it sounds like she should have been “commited” (wink, wink). Everything happens for a reason. For good or bad, weather the storm and press on.

      • The Fox

        God had a good reason, I got to travel the world preaching the one true Gospel and couldn’t have done that if married, and I have peace with remaining single and still love my wife and as long as she is alive I consider her my wife. God said what I put together let man not put asunder, so the divorce court system isn’t of God in any way. God Bless and Shalom:

  • Mike Lawson

    I wonder if lcamn thinks this officer’s a crook!

    • patriot 86

      Yeah I have tried to convince that asshole he’s wrong painting all cops as thugs but it is a waste of time talking to him .He would find some way to spin this beautiful story into something opposite .People like him are the main problem whites and blacks face when trying to overcome our differences.

      • Mike Lawson

        I agree!

  • Klang101

    This is what it is all about

    • patriot 86

      Yup ‘ all the naysayers and race baiters can say what they like about whites and blacks but good white and black folks never had a problem with each other ‘ it’s those on both sides who fuel the hatred and division who are the problem .Take away AL SHARPTON ‘ OBAMA AND ERIC HOLDER from the ferguson equation and the riots would have never erupted .

  • Barrustio

    Michael the Archangel came to Earth after having been instructed by God to come find “the greatest gift man has to offer him”. Michael searched everywhere and finally went into a synagogue where the congregation was in the middle of offering tythes. The basket was passed around and all put something in it after the richest man in town proudly put in a large sum of money for all to see. When the basket reached the last pew in the back, a poor man broke down in tears because he so desperately wanted to give, but had nothing. Next scene…Michael arrives back in heaven and God asks…”well Michael….have you brought me man’s greatest gift”. Michael opened his hands which had been cupped and which held the poor man’s tears, who would have given everything to God had he had anything to give. Our ability to cry, is God’s gift to us when we need solace. God bless this young man and the officer.

    • patriot 86

      Beautiful story friend THANKYOU.

      • Barrustio

        You’re welcome…I remember it verbatim from a nun who told it to me about 55 years ago

    • The Fox

      Nice story but sure isn’t in Gods Holy Word anywhere, God Bless and Shalom:

      • Barrustio

        Not all Godly driven words are in the Bible. If your mouth can be used to bring joy, peace, strength and comfort to someone then you are obeying his commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

        • The Fox

          Like I said a nice story but that is all it is and I do love my neighbor as myself but, won’t let my neighbor kill me or my family as that wouldn’t be true love. God Bless and Shalom:

          • Barrustio

            I hope that you didn’t get the impression that by sharing this story in any way, shape or form I was implying that one should sit back while they or their family is in danger…believe me, if Michael Brown had approached me as he did that helpless clerk or that cop I would not hesitate to put a cap in him. God bless you and yours.

  • pmbalele

    That is one a million Police officer. I wonder why HuffPost does not feature Black police officers. Are there none? We Blacks do not need sympathy from nobody. We want to be treated like any other American. We are no cry-babies.

    • Mike Lawson

      There are millions of African-American officers out there who are willing to go above and beyond the call of the call of duty, to show they’re in the corner of all, that they shouldn’t have to defend their positions at any time.

      • patriot 86

        Nope not at all ‘ when i see a police officer I see a badge and a person who is doing a difficult job.When I call 911 I don’t give a rats ass if they send a black man or a white man ‘ all I care about is that he came to help.

        • Mike Lawson



    There is divine intervention all around. I am a true believer.

    • Mike Lawson

      I am too.

  • snowyriver

    One friend of mine riding in the elevator while handcuffed with three of “America’s finest”. You would not believe what he looked like when they all exited the elevator. He is very shy about talking about it today, and that was over twenty years ago. He told me as soon as the elevator door closed these three unleashed their billy clubs and went to work.

    • Mike Lawson

      I can count on the fingers of one hand hand, the ones who didn’t get thrashed on ” the elevator ride”. The one i know of was guilty of the charges against him, and the deputies in his charge respected him for what he had done. Otherwise, look out!

  • Mike Lawson

    Bret Barnum fo president!

  • HotFlight

    There are so many good Cops in our country compared to the small handful of bad ones that their is no comparison!
    When I was on a city police dept. I would way rather help someone than to give them a ticket ‘altho that also came with the job”…I have seen so many good things Law Enforcement officers do for people…Thank God for Policeman/Women everywhere and keep them all safe!…Merry Christmas and Pray for a Good Year to All!

  • Thomas Trolia

    As you can see I was a Police Officer in Washington, D. C. and before you comment on the Picture, the Sargent at Arms of the US Congress gave her to me at the door saying that she had leaped over two desk and bit a US congressman on the ear “The first Mike Tyson”. She had went to Cuba without a Passport and was trying to reenter the US. A group of students went to pick Sugar Cane for Fidel Castro because it was rotting in the field. We were told not to arrest any of them just remove them from the building. The workers that would have been picking were fighting a war in Africa. As you can see she was not Black or poor. In 1930 Children would have never thought of resisting arrest. Mischief was turning over the outhouse and you wouldn’t be shot by a cop because the farmer got the first shot with Salt loaded shell. People my age can tell you were the country went wrong, they were called “Do gooders”. They refuse to let their children pay the consequences for their actions.

  • brian James

    these men and women put there life’s on the line everyday and get the disrespect from ass holes like Al Sharpton who was and still is a criminal and Holder and our dictator who are all criminals and will answer one day soon for there treasonous actions.

    • RufusVonDufus

      If only!

      • brian James

        it is up to the American people to do what our forefathers did and get rid of the tyrannical dictator and all his henchmen. rope is cheap, show no mercy for the ones who have destroyed this nation for there own gain of money and power. the people have to be willing to do what our forefathers did. these senators and congressmen live the high life while the rest of us pay the price. why do all these senators and congressmen become millionaires and with the case of Nazi Feinstein billionaire. she has given her husband companies so many government contracts that has made them billionaires. Pelsoi and her scumbag husband got caught red handed doing insider stock trading but because of laws that were on the books a senator and a congressmen that were caught could not be prosecuted. all of these scumbags except for a very few are thief’s, lairs, and just all out criminals who have screwed us for the last 100 years and have made themselves very rich while screwing us. there are a lot of good officers and there are the bad ones to but that is everywhere in all jobs and business.

  • If only more cops were as human as this police officer. There would be less angry people against them.

  • phil

    I decided when I was quite young that this was my life and no one as going 2 tell me how 2 live my life. Not any man and of cores not any PHONY god. off which there are many.

  • Reasoniam

    As long as the “good” cops stand silent about what the “bad” cops do, they are no better. PERIOD!

  • brian James

    there are so many outstanding officers, in the Marine Corps in boot camp in 1970 our DI always said about the bad ones. you always have the 10% who are the douche bags and that applies to all walks of life. that 10% except in DC where it is about 90% of our politicians who are douche bag traitors and treasonous swine pigs who have sold out the American people but back to this Oregon officer I take my hate off to you Sir. Right on

  • David

    If we could only get these people to listen to people like this Young MAN, and Officer Barnum, instead of Al $harptongue and Je$$e Jack$on.
    Does anyone else remember this kind of insane behavior (Ferguson Riots) happening before 2008 when God I hate YT ascended to the throne ???
    Neither do I .