Deputy helps homeless man get ID
SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KTVU) - Mike Myers is 67-years-old. He's homeless. He's disabled and in pain because of a car crash decades ago.
Every day, he's begged for change near the Interstate 580-Highway 238 interchange in Hayward so that he could eat. Police often told him to move along.
"Trying to get food money, five or 10 bucks, and then get out of there as quickly as possible before policeman gives me a ticket," he said. Alameda County sheriff's Deputy Jacob Swalwell had warned Myers many times about panhandling.
"He would get on his microphone and go, 'hey move on, can't do that here,' " said Myers. One day last month, the deputy decided to write him a ticket and asked for his ID. There was only one problem. "I didn't have an ID," Myers said. "I lost it about 10 years ago."
Myers had tried to get a new card himself at the DMV. The law requires you to have ID, and you need ID to get a job or government assistance. "All they gave me was excuses. I couldn't get an ID, because I have to have a birth certificate," Myers said. "I never got around to getting a birth certificate, but I know what's going to happen: I gotta have a picture ID. So I kind of gave up on that."
So the deputy took it upon himself to get Myers new identification. "He needed help," said Swalwell, a six-year sheriff's office veteran. "He was down and out on, call it 'the system.' " But little did they know what the system had in store for both of them.
The deputy took Myers to the DMV, but the agency had no record of Myers in their computers. The deputy was then able to find Myers birth certificate, but even with that document and information the deputy provided, the DMV still wouldn't issue Myers an ID card.
"We encountered the same red tape that I went through with him, a police officer," Myers said.
Swalwell said, "He said to me, 'Now do you see what I'm talking about?' " It took a third visit to the DMV - and an official letter on sheriff's stationery as well as a proof-of-residency letter from the deputy's church - before Myers finally got a California senior citizen ID card. Myers and the deputy have now forged a close bond.
"He turned out to be more of a friend than anybody else I've met in recent years," Myers said. The story isn't over, according to the sheriff's office. They are helping Myers get off the streets, get a part-time job and get senior-citizen benefits.
Swalwell comes from a family dedicated to public service. He has a younger brother, Chase Swalwell who is also an Alameda County sheriff's deputy. Another brother is Congressman Eric Swalwell. Their father also served as a deputy with the same department.