A New York store called the police to handle a man, who was spotted shoplifting. When cops arrived, they confronted the suspect, and their bodycam footage captured the encounter as it unfolded.
Officers Chris Cartwright and Jason Velez with the Mount Vernon Police Department responded to a call from a Dollar Tree store in Mount Vernon, New York. According to the call, a man was attempting to shoplift from the store on a Sunday afternoon. When the officers arrived, the suspect was still on the premises. The cops cautiously questioned the man, who was “honest” and “upfront” with them.
When confronted by the cops, the shoplifting suspect admitted that he was in need of socks and that he had attempted to steal multiple pairs. Police bodycam video captured the confrontation and showed the Mount Vernon police officers responding in a way that garnered them praise and applause from both their department and social media users alike after the footage was posted to MVPD’s Facebook page.
During a calm conversation with the Mount Vernon police officers, the shoplifting suspect explained that he was homeless and in need of the socks he was pilfering, The Blaze reported. Although the cops had reason to put the man in handcuffs, the officers opted for a more compassionate response: One of them offered to buy the man over a dozen pairs of socks, as long as he agreed to stop stealing.
“Soon as we went up up, he gave me the look: you got me. He was honest, upfront, rolled with it,” Officer Cartwright recalled. After patting the man down to make sure he hadn’t taken anything else, the officers spoke with the store manager about the situation. Thankfully for the shoplifter, they all agreed that the best way to handle the situation was for the officers to pay for the socks the man was trying to steal.
“You’re a little light on some socks?” Cartwright is heard questioning the man in the footage. He is also heard asking the suspect where he was staying, to which the man replies that he was just “walking around.” Cartwright decided to show some compassion. “All right, I’ll tell you what,” the officer continued, “I’ll buy you a couple [of] pairs of socks though, but you gotta stop stealing. Fair enough?”
After the homeless man agreed to Cartwright’s conditions, the officer turned his attention to the store clerk, asking, “How much are they?” After learning that the socks were only $1 per pair, the officer told the cashier to ring him up for $15 worth before returning his attention to the homeless man.
“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,” Cartwright told him, adding, “If you weren’t honest, I wouldn’t have bought them for you.” Officer Velez then chimed in, telling the man that if he were in need of services, he could stop by the police department for help.
The kindness mindset created by Officers Cartwright and Velez continued to spread with the Dollar Tree manager agreeing that the man should not be charged and even offering to help with a hot meal in the future, NBC 4 reported. She also told the man that if he was in need of supplies, “he could just tell her,” according to the NY Post.
Officers Chris Cartwright and Jason Velez were rightfully praised for their actions by Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Glenn Scott. “You’re de-escalating the situation, calming everyone down, and coming up with a solution,” he said. A post on MVPD’s Facebook page echoed similar sentiments:
We love this city and the citizens we serve. Even though we are all going through some trying times, some of us are in tougher situations than others. …
Mount Vernon is a fiercely hard working community that never gets the positive attention it needs. The community is proud and resilient and always keeps its head up and marches on towards a better tomorrow. These positive incidents happen every day in our city, not only with the police, but also with our other municipal employees and with our business partners.
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 to all the other Officers that have served proudly over the last year. Your hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed.
Of course, the community seemed to agree as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive response on social media, where users thanked, praised, and applauded the officers for their efforts. According to Cartwright and Velez, however, it was just the right thing to do. “How do you deny something essential he needs?” Cartwright asked.
The importance of clean, comfortable feet was not lost on Velez, who served as a Navy corpsman alongside Marines. “Judging from my military days, (socks) are really important,” he said. Most importantly, though, is the lesson on compassion and the example of “protect and serve” that the officers inadvertently gave the public.
“I love this so much! It really touched me,” a social media user wrote, explaining that she eagerly showed it to her 9-year-old son. “He was becoming disillusioned about the role of police officers lately. We just watched the clip together. I was so incredibly proud to show him what our Mount Vernon Police Officers are doing. Thank you Officers Cartright and Velez!! My son has a bit of renewed faith in police officers because of what you did. A little bit of kindness really goes a long way.” I couldn’t have said it any better.