Act of kindness: Salem officers change local business owner’s flat tire

‘We respect them. They respect us.’

SALEM, Va. – Chauncey Savage was nearly flat out of luck when his truck got a flat tire.

Savage owns Cheesesteak Factory & Jerk House in Salem. He had just filled up his food truck’s tank with gas to head to Lynchburg on Wednesday when his tire blew out. Minutes later, a couple Salem police officers just happened to show up.

"When they pulled up, it was like, you know everything bad going on right now. And it was like, ‘Here we go. What’s going to happen today?'” said Savage.

But it’s what those officers did next that put a smile on Savage’s face. The officers directed traffic and changed the tire for him, joined by a plain clothes state trooper who stopped to help too.

“As a black man walking around in Salem, I never have a problem with worrying about the police department. They show us love every day, genuine love,” said Savage. "We don’t have no problem with the police officers. We respect them. They respect us.”

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing and protests against police brutality and racism across the country, Savage decided to post about the act of kindness on Facebook, thanking the officers and offering the department free cheesesteaks all week.

“That’s a great gesture on their part,” said Salem Police Chief Mike Crawley, who heard about what happened through social media.

Crawley said the actions of those officers are not out of the norm. That is simply the culture at the department and in the city, he said.

“We tried to create a culture here that we are guardians of our community,” said Crawley. "So it’s about mutual respect and that’s where it starts.”

The community paid another ‘thank you’ to the department on Thursday. Officers’ wives, including Crystal Slusser, raised $1,200 from friends, family and local businesses to buy snacks and drinks for the department. They also dropped off handwritten cards from kids.

“Majority of the police officers out there are amazing, true, kind-hearted, generous people; men and women. And we really just want the community to see that," said Slusser.

“It’s good karma,” said Savage. "They come around and help us out. It was an awesome feeling for them to be helping us.”

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