Officer's act of kindness helps shoplifter out of difficult situation

LONDON, Ky. (WKYT) - It started with a complaint about a shoplifter, but it ended with an act of kindness.

A London police officer took it upon himself to help a suspected shoplifter after realizing the man was in a difficult situation.

"As a police officer, it's not black and white for us," said Officer Justin Roby. "There's a lot of gray. And you have to cipher through everything and you really need to figure out the whole story."

Roby was called to the Kroger on North Main Street in London on Saturday, Jan. 17 after a loss prevention officer stopped a man who was shoplifting.

The suspect was a single father who had fallen on hard times, Roby said. The man was caught stealing baby formula for his six-month-old son, who was with him at the time.

The store's loss prevention officer told Roby he did not want to press charges, and Roby agreed.

"Me citing him for court wouldn't have done any good for him," he said. "He's already short on money, can't afford formula, so me making him appear in court, he's still not going to have any food for that baby."

But what Roby did next showed the shoplifter what it truly means "to protect and serve" one's community.

He bought some formula himself, giving it to the man for his baby.

"You put yourself in the situations," he said. "I think, 'Well, what if me and my son, what if this was us?"

Roby also gave the man a message, saying he told the man there are a lot of people and organizations - including the police department - that are available to help those in need.

Roby told WKYT's Garrett Wymer that there was nothing special about what he did, saying that his fellow officers do selfless acts - changing tires, giving people rides to homeless shelters - every day. It is just not always seen.

"I think when [a lot of people] look at us, they see just the uniform and just the car, just the tools that we have on our belt," Roby said. "But behind the uniform, I'm a human being and I'm a person out in this community just like any of them. I have a little boy. I'm a father just like that gentleman was.

"We're not these robots," he said. "There's a human behind the badge."

Officer Roby says a lot of people are struggling, and you do not have to be a police officer to offer a helping hand.

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