Officer comes to aid of homeless woman

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 6, 2016

 Vincent Ranelli

Vincent Ranelli


UTICA — At approximately 1:15 p.m. Monday, Dec. 28, calls to the Utica Police Department for suspicious activity turned into calls for service.

Utica police officer Vincent Ranelli responded to the area of Hall Road and Northpointe Boulevard to check on an individual who was asking drivers for money. The 61-year-old woman was standing on the easement with a sign.

“The woman was homeless, and it was in the sleety snow they had just the other day, and she was begging people for money on Hall Road,” Utica Police Chief David Faber said in a Dec. 30 interview. “It was very dangerous, especially in those conditions.”

Ranelli approached the woman and spoke to her. She stated that she was trying to get money so she could buy a new pair of winter boots from the nearby Salvation Army, according to his report.

Ranelli asked if he could take her to the Salvation Army so he could purchase the boots for her in order to reduce her risk of being struck by traffic, since the weather conditions were poor. She agreed to meet him at the store.

He met her at the store, and she picked out a pair of boots.

“It was kind of funny,” Faber said. “Whatever the price was, the lady was trying to haggle the price down, and the store clerk said, ‘I can’t go that low.’ Finally, (Ranelli) told the clerk to tell her what she wanted to hear, and he would pay the asking price.”

After purchasing the boots for the woman, Ranelli offered to take the woman to a place where she could get a warm meal that was out of the weather, Faber said.

“I instructed (Ranelli) to go back and write more than was in the initial report because it was lacking some,” he said. “I said, ‘No, you did something good. Put it in the report.’”

Faber said Ranelli graduated from the Macomb Police Academy in May and has been on the roads for a little more than seven months. Prior to graduating, he had worked as a full-time dispatcher for the Police Department since 2012.

“It’s nice to have some good news,” Faber said.