Upon responding to a shoplifting call from a Kroger grocery store last month, London, Kentucky, police officer Justin Roby found that the suspect in the case was a father of a 6-month-old who had fallen on hard times. According to a report from the Sentinel-Echo, the man had attempted to steal formula to feed his son.
Since the store decided not to press charges against the suspect, Roby made the call not only to let the man go, but also to purchase several cans of baby formula for the family.
Roby told local news affiliate WKYT that not everything in his job as a police officer is black and white, adding that he tries to take the time to figure out the whole story when he responds to a call.
“Me citing him for court wouldn’t have done anything for him. He’s already short on money – can’t afford formula – so me making him appear in court – he’s still not going to have food for that baby,” Roby explained in the interview.
Roby’s act of kindness went public when, according to reports, a Kroger customer sent a letter to both the police department and the local newspaper, complimenting Roby on being selfless and compassionate.
London Police Chief Derek House told the Sentinel-Echo that he gets letters thanking his officers often, agreeing with Roby’s observations that gray areas do exist. He added that he trusts his officers to assess these areas and handle them in a way that is right.
Roby, who has a young son himself, told reporters that although he is a police officer, he identifies as being a member of the community.
“I think when they look at us, they just see the uniform and the car – just the tools that we have on our belt…We’re not these robots – there’s a human behind the badge,” said Roby.
This article was originally published Feb. 4, 2015 at 1:30 p.m.