ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – What started as a shoplifting call, turned into something very different for a group of officers and the suspect. Instead of arresting a father for stealing baby formula, four officers ended up helping him and his 11-month-old.
The story is quickly spreading on social media. The officers’ Sergeant calls it “old fashioned compassion” in his Facebook post, and it’s already gotten hundreds of shares.
An Albertsons employee called Roswell Police Sunday, after spotting a man shoplifting, hiding stolen items in a baby carrier.
“We waited at the front door for him, confronted him at the front door,” recalled Officer Joe Mason, of the Roswell Police Department. “We uncovered the baby carrier and found it was baby formula.”
Officer Mason, Officer Chris Bradley, along with Officer Anthony Armijo and a New Mexico State Police officer, were there.
The officers said the man immediately showed remorse for stealing the items. He told police he recently lost his job, and the formula was for his 11-month-old son.
“He just seemed like he was down on his luck,” said Bradley. “It kind of happened without even being said you know, we all knew what the right thing to do was,” added Mason.
Each officer pitched in their own money, and bought him the baby formula, about $80 worth. Even Albertsons pitched in, and the man ended up with five canisters of baby formula.
“He broke down, it was a very emotional moment for everybody that was there,” recalled officer Bradley.
Police said the man was in tears. He was grateful for the officers’ compassion, and said he would never look at cops the same way.
“He didn’t have really criminal intent, he was just a man trying to feed his child,” said Bradley. “And you know, I put myself in his shoes.”
The officers told KRQE News 13 they treat every situation differently, and had a lengthy discussion with the man. “Where is he going to better serve that child, in jail – or at home taking care of him?,” Mason explained. “And that’s what’s important.”
A Roswell Sergeant shared the story in a Facebook post, saying “Great job day shift. I am honored to be your Sergeant.”
The Facebook post received more than 300 shares in less than a day. Several people responded, saying “awesome display of kindness, compassion, and respect!”
Another person wrote, “Class Act right there! That’s what being a police officer is all about!!”
Bradley and Mason both told News 13, they did not expect such a wide response. “We did it just because it felt like the right thing to do,” said officer Bradley.
The officers shared resources that could help the man, so he wouldn’t resort to stealing. “If you can actually touch someone in a positive way, that’s what we want as a police officer you know,” said officer Mason. “My best memories and the coolest stuff I’ve done as a cop has been helping people.”
Not only are people sharing the story on Facebook, they’re responding. Roswell Police said they’ve gotten multiple messages from people wanting to donate diapers and formula to the man.
The officers are also helping him find a new job.
Police said the man was not charged with shoplifting, since Albertsons decided not to press charges. He is however, not allowed to return to the store.