Moral Low Ground

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London, Kentucky Cop Justin Roby Buys Baby Formula for Shoplifting Single Dad

(LEX18 screen grab)

(LEX18 screen grab)

A police officer responding to a shoplifting complaint at a London, Kentucky supermarket ended up purchasing baby formula for a single dad who has fallen on hard times.

According to the London Sentinel-Echo, London Police Officer Justin Roby was called to the local Kroger supermarket on January 17 when the store’s loss prevention employee noticed a man attempting to steal the formula to feed his baby. Upon further investigation, Roby and the employee concluded that the man, a single father who is in dire financial straits, simply could not afford to feed his child.

Roby was told that the store did not wish to file charges against the man. Not only did the officer use his discretion and decide not to arrest the shoplifter, he bought him several cans of formula and told him that he could come to the police department if he needed help in the future. Roby also advised him to seek assistance at local churches or to turn to any of the various county resources for people in need.

“He was speechless for a while,” Roby told LEX18 News. “He shook my hand and said thank you, he didn’t really say a whole lot.”

“You see your son or your daughter in that little carrier,” Roby said. “And you think what would you want somebody to do for your son or your daughter?”

“I didn’t do anything that any one of us don’t do all the time,” Roby told the Sentinel-Echo. “It just usually doesn’t get seen. It happens a lot more than people realize. We’re not here to throw people in jail, we’re here to protect and serve the community.”

“I just did the right thing,” Roby continued. “I wished the man good luck and told him if he ever needed anything to let us know. Then I went on my way and didn’t think about it anymore. I didn’t do anything I wouldn’t expect anyone else to do. I hope someone would do the same for me if I was in that situation.”

“Me citing him for court wouldn’t have done any good for him,” Roby told WKYT. “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.”

London Police Chief Derek House praised Roby’s actions.

“Whether it’s changing tires or something like this, it makes you proud,” House told the Sentinel-Echo. “Our officers have hearts too. I trust them to always do the right thing. Having a department full of people like Justin makes it a lot easier for me to sleep at night.”

“People see us driving black and white cars and a lot of times that makes them think we enforce laws that are just black and white, but they’re not,” House added. “Sometimes there’s a gray area and I trust my officers to do what’s right.”

This sort of thing does happen from time to time. Last December, Tarrant, Alabama Police Officer William Stacy bought a shoplifting mom, who was caught stealing five eggs, a carton of eggs, sending her home with the promise to never shoplift again. Days later, Tarrant police officers delivered two truckloads of groceries to the woman’s home.

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