The Tampa Police Department will celebrate and honor a City of Tampa Solid Waste Driver today for helping a toddler make it home safe after the child was found playing outdoors alone last month.
On June 30, Jamal Powell, a solid waste driver, was on his collection route in East Tampa’s Temple Crest Neighborhood, when he spotted a two-year-old boy playing alone. Concerned for the boy’s welfare, Powell paused his collection route to immediately help the toddler and ensure he was reconnected with his family.
The child was under the care of his grandmother and aunt who were inside the home at the time. The child had just slipped out the front door and was outside for a matter of minutes in his front yard when Powell noticed him, pulled over and waited with him. He also contacted the Tampa Police Department to ask for their assistance.
The Tampa Police Department were able to quickly locate the boy’s guardians and ensured that the family had good safety measures in place. Officers determined that this did not rise to the level of filing a police report and no charges were filed against the guardian of the child.
Marco, age 2, takes a tour of Jamal Powell's Solid Waste truck before reconnecting with his guardians.
Powell later learned that the little boy’s name is Marco and he is two years old. The toddler’s loved ones remain incredibly grateful to Powell for being the eyes of their neighborhood and for jumping into action to help during an incident that could happen to any parent.
On Wednesday, August 17, Police Chief Mary O’Connor will honor Powell at a Tampa Police Department Promotions Ceremony with an award for his actions alongside Larry Washington, Director of the City of Tampa's Solid Waste Department. Marco and his loved ones will also be able to take part in the ceremony.
"Jamal is a great example of how much our drivers help and assist the community with integrity and kindness," Washington said. "Along with keeping the city clean, Tampa solid waste drivers are often the city's first set of eyes and ears. They are trained to be vigilant and look out for families across the city."
(Note: Media will not be permitted inside the award ceremony, so media availability is being made prior to. Still photos will be provided after.)
Powell is new to the Tampa Solid Waste Department. He started in May 2022.
Each year, drivers participate in the See Something, Say Something Training to help equip them with the tools to help City of Tampa residents stay safe.