Nighttime encounter leads to unlikely friendship between white cop, black teen

BENICIA, Calif. -- It had all the makings of bad situation. Late at night, in an industrial section of Benicia, California, officer Kirk Keffer says he spotted a shadowy figure in a dark hoodie.

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Kirk Keffer

CBS News

“And it kinda caught me off guard because I normally don’t see anybody out there. And there’s no sidewalks. And he’s kind of walking on the side of the street,” Keffer said. “It wasn’t right.”

Or was it? Jourdan Duncan says he was minding his own business.

“And I noticed it was a police car. And I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to move. I don’t want him to think I have any weapons,’” Jourdan said.

Jourdan explained to the officer that he was just walking home from work. There was no crime. The kid didn’t need help.

By all rights, officer Keffer could have, and many officers would have, just left him alone. But Keffer isn’t that kind of cop. He gave Jourdan a ride. And more importantly, he gave him a listen.

Keffer said Jourdan’s drive and work effort are what struck him.

“And to me that speaks volumes,” he said.

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Jourdan Duncan

CBS News

As Keffer took Jourdan from where he works on the line at Pro-Form Laboratories, he started to really appreciate the young man sitting next to him. Because this wasn’t just a trip around the block.

This was a seven-mile trek, a two-and-a-half hour walk, to Jourdan’s house, a whole town away in Vallejo, California.

“He said, ‘And you’re walking?!’  And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m walking,’” Jourdan said.

“Not many 18-year-olds you meet have that kind of mindset,” Keffer said. “They don’t even want to walk down to the store, let alone walk seven miles just to get to work.”

Jourdan says he started walking to work after his car broke down last May. He says people have offered him rides, but he wants to make it on his own. And when Keffer heard that, he had heard enough. He immediately made plans to visit Jourdan again.

“He said, ‘Hey, Jourdan, you remember me right?’ And I was like … ‘How could I not,’” Jourdan said.

“I said, ‘Jourdan, you’re not in trouble.’ I said, ‘We just want to give you something,’” Keffer said.

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Jourdan riding his new bike

CBS News

To ease his commute, Keffer got the police association buy Jourdan a new bike.

“I was just looking at the bike like ‘This bike is going to be cherished,’” Jourdan said.

Keffer also raised an additional $20,000 to help him buy a car and pursue his career -- to be a police officer.

Jourdan even got to ride along on a shift.

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Jourdan riding along with Keffer

CBS News

“I’n not going to shake this kid now,” Keffer said.

What started as tense encounter may end with a perfect partner.

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.