A seemingly routine call to a dollar store over alleged shoplifting took a heartening turn when two New York policemen replaced punitive action with an act of unexpected compassion for a destitute man.
Two police officers responded to an alleged shoplifting report in an unexpected manner. A New York Dollar Tree store had reported a man suspected of shoplifting, leading to the arrival of Mount Vernon Police Department officers Chris Cartwright and Jason Velez at the scene. Bodycam footage from the encounter reveals an honest conversation that resulted in a heartwarming conclusion.
On a tranquil Sunday afternoon, Officers Cartwright and Velez found themselves face to face with the accused shoplifter, still on the premises of the Dollar Tree store. As they engaged the man in conversation, he was forthright about his circumstances and actions. The man, who revealed himself to be homeless, confessed to trying to steal socks, an essential commodity he desperately needed.
Recorded on the officers’ bodycams, this admission of need led to an unprecedented response from the officers that won them accolades from their department and appreciation from social media users. Rather than pursuing punitive measures, the officers chose a compassionate path. They offered to purchase a number of socks for the man, provided he ceased his stealing endeavors.
Recalling the encounter, Officer Cartwright stated, “He was honest, upfront, rolled with it.” This honesty would prove crucial in the officers’ decision to handle the situation differently. After a discussion with the store manager, a consensus was reached: the officers would pay for the socks the man had intended to steal.
In the poignant exchange recorded on the bodycam, Officer Cartwright is heard confirming the man’s need for socks. After establishing the man’s homeless status, Cartwright decided to extend his generosity. Offering to buy socks for the man, he added a caveat – the shoplifting must stop. An agreement was quickly reached, and the focus turned to purchasing the socks.
In the footage, Cartwright is seen querying the store clerk about the cost of the socks. Learning that they were priced at $1 a pair, he decided to buy $15 worth. Addressing the homeless man, he shared, “Listen, I know how important it is to have a nice pair of socks, especially when you’re out running around and, you know, you got nothing else going on, so we’ll get you taken care of.” His fellow officer, Velez, added that the man could seek assistance from the police department should he find himself in need of services.
The ripple effect of this kind gesture extended to the Dollar Tree store manager, who decided not to press charges against the man. Further, she offered to assist him with a hot meal in the future, according to NBC 4. If he needed supplies, he simply had to ask, reported the NY Post.
Such a benevolent act did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. The officers received high praise from Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Glenn Scott, who commended them for de-escalating the situation and finding a suitable solution. A post on the MVPD Facebook page celebrated the officers’ actions, stating, “The Officers of the Mount Vernon Police Department will continue to serve our community to the best of our abilities. Thank you to Officers Cartwright, Velez, and all the other officers that have served proudly over the last year.”
Social media users resonated with these sentiments, showering the officers with gratitude, praise, and applause. For the officers, however, they had simply done the right thing. As Cartwright mused, “How do you deny something essential he needs?” Velez, a former Navy corpsman, agreed, noting the significance of socks from his military days.
Their act of compassion not only benefitted the man in question but also served to improve public perception of law enforcement. As one social media user described, the actions of Officers Cartwright and Velez had a profound impact on her nine-year-old son’s view of police officers.
The woman gratefully thanked the officers, stating, “A little bit of kindness really goes a long way.” This incident underscores that sentiment beautifully, demonstrating the profound effect of empathy and compassion.
WATCH the video below: