Unlikely friendship begins after police officer teaches boy to read

Jacob Reynolds, 8, learned how to read from an unlikely bond with Birmingham Police Officer Willie Buntley.

We expect the men and women in blue to protect us.

But one Birmingham Police Officer is serving through literacy.

ABC 33/40 NEWS Reporter Patrick Thomas sat down with a young boy, who an officer is helping turn the pages of life.

There's something about flipping open a book that 8- year old Jacob Reynolds loves. As he turned each page, then puts a finger on every letter, Jacob told ABC 33/40 NEWS on Wednesday that it is the same feeling his reading mentor gave him not long ago. Thomas asked, "Why did that make you feel great?" Reynolds replied, "Because I know how to read."

The person who encouraged him to learn how to do it: Birmingham Police Officer Willie Buntley. It sparked an unlikely friendship indeed said young Reynolds. "I did not think I could be friends with him," explained Reynolds. Jacob thought he would be unable to even mumble a few words on the cover. "Because I might get nervous."

The same nerves Officer Buntley helped him overcome as he found ways to capture his attention. "Because I played a lot of games with him," said Jacob. "He makes me laugh." Reading to Jacob isn't the only good deed Officer Buntley is doing in the Birmingham area. In fact, last week we caught him on camera while calmed some young children down in a community after a shooting. But it was when officer Buntley drove his patrol car to Hayes elementary and handed all the second graders a Junior Police badge, that Jacob knew what he wants to do when he grows up. "I say I wanna be a police officer," said Reynolds.

After he earned a reading certificate this spring, it's fair to say the friendship is paying off.

The pair met through a literacy program known as STAIR of Birmingham. (click STAIR if you would like to volunteer)

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