About 20 years ago not far from the old East Patrol Division near 27th and Van Brunt, two lives were forever changed when an officer patrolling Kansas City streets met a little girl who needed his help.
Back then a promise was made. It was kept. That promise helped a little girl overcome the odds.
The little girl, Klynn Scales, says one police officer’s actions prove how one person can change someone else’s life for the better without knowing the impact they made.
Back in the late 1990s, a 9-year-old Scales was living with a drug-addicted mother. At the time, a neglected Scales stole food from the nearby 7-Eleven to feed her brothers.
While she was struggling to overcome abuse and neglect, Kansas City, MO police officer Jeffrey Colvin was patrolling the streets of east Kansas City. He remembers Scales waving to him as he worked.
“She had a really energetic, outgoing personality,” Colvin said.
Scales remembers Colvin as the only positive influence in her life as a child. That he really seemed to care.
“He was like my best friend. I remember him bringing us candy sometimes. You know kids. We love candy,” Scales said with a laugh.
She says Colvin did more than bring sweets.
“First question after school every day was, ‘How did you do at school today? What did you learn?’” Scales remembered.
Scales says Colvin also made a pinky promise that he would always check on her. When he heard her address dispatched on his police radio for a children’s division call, he had to find out what was wrong and help.
“She was in pretty weak condition, pale,” Colvin recalled about finding Scales that day.
Scales was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with a case of malnutrition that almost turned fatal. She says thankfully her guardian angel was there. She’s convinced he saved her life.
“Yes I do. I feel like if he didn't keep that pinky promise that he made that night that nobody would have come to the house,” Scales said. “I would have died that night with malnutrition or within the next day or so. I would have been dead.”
After she was rescued, Scales and her brothers were placed in state custody.
In late 2015, Scales contacted the Kansas City, MO Police Department hoping to find the officer who saved her.
Kansas City Sgt. Jennifer Jones helped Scales track down Colvin, her personal hero, to thank him in person.
“Sometimes you go through your whole entire career not thinking that you really made a difference,” Scales said. “Then here I am. I come into his life.”
When they reunited nearly 20 years later, Colvin gave Scales a bracelet that he wore until it broke.
“The bracelet I remember him wearing on his left wrist he gave that to me,” Scales said.
Colvin taped the bracelet back together and gave it to the woman he met when she was a child who is now a mother herself. During the reunion, Scales had a big favor to ask for her big plans to become a police officer.
“She was emphatic that when she graduated … not if … but when she graduated, that I would be the one to pin her badge on her,” Colvin said.
She asked that Colvin and Jones promise to attend her graduation.
Colvin and Jones kept another promise and did just that. They drove to Galveston, TX in May for Scales’ police academy graduation.
“It was a really emotional night for me,” Scales said. “It was the biggest accomplishment of my life.”
Colvin says while in uniform for Scales’ pinning ceremony he had to keep his emotions in check. He did feel honored to pin her badge on her uniform.
“I was very proud of her. She really beat all statistical odds to get where she was,” Colvin said. “Most people would look at her nine-year-old self and basically write her off and say this girl doesn't have a chance in the world. She's not going to amount to anything. She obviously proved everybody wrong there.”
Scales is now a police officer herself in Galveston. She had plaques made to thank the Kansas City officers who made an impact on her life. The plaque for Colvin reads, “A promise made, a promise kept, walking in the footsteps of a true hero!”
“He's the one who makes me want to be like him. I want to be a Jeff Colvin to another child or even an adult,” Scales said.
Scales recently met a paramedic in Texas who also chose his career path after another hero rescued him from a childhood of abuse and neglect. They hope to work together to start a nonprofit to encourage children who have been abused, neglected or overlooked to overcome and be successful.
“I really believe that people are placed into your life for a reason,” Scales said.
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