A pair of Westchester County police officers are being praised after opting to put compassion before handcuffs, as they bought a pair of socks for a homeless man who was caught trying to steal them.
Mount Vernon Police Officer Christ Cartwright and Jason Velez were called after a report of a shoplifter at a Dollar Tree store Sunday afternoon. After they arrived, the duo had a calm conversation with the man, who quickly admitted what happened.
"Soon as we went up up, he gave me the look: you got me. He was honest, upfront, rolled with it," said Cartwright.
They can be heard talking with the man, who told the officers he was homeless. The officers diffused the situation without conflict, and followed it up with a kind act: One of the officers offered to buy the man a couple pairs, as long as he agreed to stop stealing. The man thanked the officers, who paid for dozens of socks out of their own wallets.
"How do you deny something essential he needs," Cartwright said.
Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Glenn Scott praised the officers' actions.
"You're deescalating the situation, calming everyone down and coming up with a solution," Scott said.
Their solution recognized the importance of clean, comfortable feet — an issue not lost on Velez, who served as a Navy corpsman alongside Marines.
"Judging from my military days, (socks) are really important," he said.
The homeless man was not charged, and the store manager even told police she's help with a hot meal and supplies in the future.