A heartfelt letter from a heroin addict describing how a Portland police officer helped him in a desperate moment was being widely shared online Thursday, drawing about 1,500 Facebook “likes” and a flood of comments praising the officer by evening.

The department posted the letter on its Facebook site at the writer’s request, saying the writer wanted it posted anonymously. In his letter, he described talking at length to Officer Sean Hurley about his situation and being comforted by the officer’s compassion. He said he’s been clean since that day, more than a month ago.

“For the first time in my life, I legitimately contemplated suicide. I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’d had enough, and I had hit a whole new bottom. All I had was the clothes I had been wearing the last few days in a row,” he wrote. But Hurley tried to help, and even teared up when he heard the addict’s story.

“That display of genuine emotion touched my heart (and) is a memory I will forever hold dear to me. In that moment, he not only restored my faith in police officers … but he also restored my faith in humanity on that day. His compassion, vulnerability, and inherent goodness just blew me away,” the man wrote. “He shook my hand, pulled me in for a hug, and told me he would say a prayer for me.”

Here is the full letter:

“The date was August 17, 2015. It’s a day I’ll never forget, for good reasons and bad. I’m 30 years old and I suffer from the disease of addiction. It started with OxyContin in 2003 at the age of 18, and progressed into heroin in 2010 when I was 25.

After using on the morning of Monday the 17th, I found myself sick, withdrawing, and homeless come early afternoon. I was at a friend’s house for a few hours (a fellow addict), and he informed me around 4pm or so that he needed to drop me off somewhere because he wanted to use…and because I had no money and no valuables, I was of no use to him. He knew I had nowhere to go and I’d end up sleeping on the street as I had the night before. He didn’t care.

As if I wasn’t depressed enough as it was, once he dropped me off on Brighton Ave, I was absolutely devastated. For the first time in my life, I legitimately contemplated suicide. I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’d had enough, and I had hit a whole new bottom. All I had was the clothes I had been wearing the last few days in a row. Not even a minute after being dropped off, I was approached by a shady couple that asked me to use my lighter. I agreed, and the woman (who was clearly under the influence of several different drugs) asked me to do a sexual favor for her boyfriend for money. I was so disgusted. But that’s my luck – as if things weren’t bad enough, this had to happen to make my day even worse. So I decided to call the Portland Police Department to report that this couple was attempting to solicit prostitution.

After being on the phone for about ten minutes, the dispatcher informed me they were sending an officer to my location to take a report. Approximately fifteen minutes later, a cruiser pulled up and Officer Sean Hurley came over to me and introduced himself. I spent several minutes telling him my version of the events that had just transpired, and gave him a description of the couple that had approached me. Once I was done giving him the report, he sincerely thanked me for reaching out to the police…he clearly could see how much it bothered me.

Now, as an addict with a record who was strung out pretty bad, I would normally be extremely anxious and paranoid just having a cop talk to me, let alone having a conversation with one! But because he was so polite, helpful, and sincere in our conversation, I made the conscious decision that I would be totally and completely honest with him. I told him my situation in detail, including how and why I ended up homeless (once again). I also told him I had been waiting for the last several days to get into Milestone Detox so I could get into a program, but they had made so many false promises regarding how long I would have to wait…which resulted in me having to sleep on the streets for the previous two nights (a first for me). He felt so bad for me and he clearly knew my situation was pretty hopeless. He started offering to help in any and every way he knew how.

Unfortunately, my options were severely limited. He asked me if I would be willing to let him take me to the Oxford Street shelter, which is a wet shelter. For anyone not familiar with the term ‘wet shelter’, basically it means that people are allowed to be drunk and/or high while staying there. I was struggling so hard to stay clean, and knew in my heart that if I were literally surrounded by drugs, it would be almost impossible not to succumb to the temptation.

That brought me to come to terms with a harsh reality: I would rather sleep on the streets on Portland than in a wet shelter. Almost immediately after I said those words to Officer Hurley, I broke down and began bawling my eyes out. I couldn’t hold the tears back any longer.

The biggest reason I have for sharing this experience with the public is what happened next. Even though Sean had been great with everything up to this point, in a million years I wouldn’t have expected to see what I saw when I looked at him. It was obvious to me that he was fighting back tears, and then it happened – I saw a tear begin to fall down his cheek, which he promptly wiped away…which I assume was to be able to keep his composure so he could be there for me during my time of weakness.

Either way, that display of genuine emotion touched my heart is a memory I will forever hold dear to me. In that moment, he not only restored my faith in police officer said, but he also restored my faith in humanity on that day. His compassion, vulnerability, and inherent goodness just blew me away. He shook my hand, pulled me in for a hug, and told me he would say a prayer for me. He also asked me (probably ten more times) before he left if there was ANYTHING else whatsoever that he could do for me…to which I replied, “You’ve already done so much, more than I could’ve ever asked for.”

I’ve been clean since that day. So thank you, Sean. You’ve become a hero of mine. I honestly don’t even know if I’d still be here today if it weren’t for what you did for me on that day. I am so blessed to have met you, and the citizens of Portland are as well…to have an officer like you serving and protecting them. God Bless You.”

Hurley said Thursday that he was just doing his job, and he was glad the man was staying clean.

“Every officer here does this every day,” said Hurley, standing outside the police station. “You never know, just looking at someone, how they’re feeling. It’s why we always like to talk to them.”

The writer said Hurley may have even saved his life.

“So thank you, Sean. You’ve become a hero of mine. I honestly don’t even know if I’d still be here today if it weren’t for what you did for me on that day,” he wrote.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said it was good to hear the officer had helped the man.

“I think we have a police department that’s full of compassionate people. Every once in a while, an incident comes to light like this, but I know it’s happening all the time,” Sauschuck said.

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