After hearing the unemployed man's story, two Staten Island officers helped find him a job

By Andrea Park
Updated May 29, 2015 12:45 PM
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After jumping a turnstile at a Staten Island train station, Sangeeth Wijesinghe was given a ticket – and a new job.

On April 15, Wijesinghe’s wife paid her train fare before her husband jumped over the barrier at the Tompkinsville station, according to the Staten Island Advance. Metropolitan Transportation Authority Officers Christopher D’Onofrio and Paul Martino issued Wijesinghe a ticket before striking up a conversation as Wijesinghe waited for the next train to arrive.

“I felt bad. I told him I had no money and I had to pay my rent, which is very expensive,” Wijesinghe, 27, says. He also told the officers that he and his wife, both of whom came to the United States from Sri Lanka in the last year, were unemployed.

“You get a lot of people that were sorry that they got caught, not actually sorry for what they did,” D’Onofrio says. “But he was genuinely sorry he jumped the turnstile. I felt bad giving him the summons.”

So bad, in fact, that he decided to help find Wijesinghe a job. He called a friend who manages Bolla Market in the Tompkinsville neighborhood of Staten Island, and found out that there was an open position and walked with Wijesinghe to the store to introduce him to manager Dushomantha Premasiri.

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Wijesinghe, who is fully documented and authorized to work in the U.S., trained for a few weeks and now works full-time as a cashier.

“I was so happy. They were really nice and helpful,” he says. “It’s good working here. Now, I don’t have to worry and everything is okay.”

D’Onofrio and Martino say they’re happy for their “new friend” and enjoy visiting him during their frequent trips to the market.

“We usually see everyone at their worst,” Martino says. “It’s good we can give back. It’s community policing at its best.”