It’s not uncommon for police officers to respond to reports of shoplifting, but what this Roeland Park police officer saw broke his heart.
Police officer Mark Engravalle was called onto the scene by the local Wal-Mart to arrest a woman accused of shoplifting when he saw a woman surrounded by her five daughters, all of whom were crying, dirty, and barefoot. Instead of arresting the woman, the officer went into his own pocket to buy shoes for the children and baby wipes for the homeless mother, who was now a widow, who had been caught trying to steal provisions for her family.
“I didn’t give it a second thought,” said the officer. “I just wanted to do right by the children.”
Engravalle was used to responding to calls by Wal-Mart of thieves stealing things like jewellery, cosmeticsand electronics, but this occurrence was unlike any other.
“They thought I was going to take their mother to jail,” he said.
When he asked the mother if she had any money for the items she’d taken, she said no. He saw the state of the children and asked them if they had any shoes. They said no and started crying even harder. The sight of them reminded him of his own two children.
It was his duty to write the mother a citation for shoplifting, but being a police officer means you are supposed to help people. Engravalle knew he couldn’t just walk away, so he paid for the diapers, shoes, and wipes.
Since learning of what Engravalle did for the mother and her children, listeners to the local radio stations KMBZ and KCMO have begun giving funds to provide support to the family, following in the good police officer’s footsteps.
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