Police officer helps man who assaulted him find a job six years later: “People forgive and forget”

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RICHMOND, Virginia -- A Virginia police officer was surprised to see the man who assaulted him six years prior ask him for help.

Richmond Police Officer Rey Perez does more than just serve and protect in Richmond's Mosby Court community. He also works to boost confidence and the economy.

Perez came up with "Bridging the Gap: One Human at a Time."

The six-week program trains people with checkered pasts -- helping them to find and keep jobs.

"I came up with a program to help enhance people’s skills. Most of the people give me the same answer -- that they couldn’t [find a job] or they made a mistake many years ago. They needed some help," Perez said.

Jeffrey Perry is one of those who needed help.

55-year-old Perry served 18 years in prison for driving a getaway car during a robbery. He called his time behind bars exhausting and scary. When he was released last summer, he was determined to turn over a new leaf.

"I feared the most that employers were not going to hire me based on my criminal history," Perry said.

Officer Perez was so impressed with the leadership skills Perry honed in prison, that he made Perry the vice president of his non-profit.

"We don’t turn anyone down. We help everybody. There is no restrictions or limits to the help we give," Perry said.

That promise was put to the test when Walter Neal approached "Bridging the Gap" officials for help.

Give his past, Neal was skeptical.

"When my cousin first told me about it, I was like, ‘Him? No. No,'" Neal said.

"I was very surprised initially when he walked in," Officer Perez admitted.

Six years ago, 31-year-old Walter served 30 days for assaulting a police officer. The officer he assaulted was Rey Perez.

Both men have forgiven and moved on.

 

"(Rey) came to me with a few opportunities to change a thing or two in my life. I learned how to sell myself in an interview, and I learned a few management skills too," Neal said.

After graduating from "Bridging the Gap," Neal started a new job at KFC and began working toward his computer degree.

"People move on and forgive and forget. And now I’m here," Neal said.