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Viral Video Shows Mount Vernon Cops Choose To Help Homeless Man Accused Of Shoplifting, Instead Of Arrest Him

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It may have popped up in your Facebook feed.

A viral police bodycam video shows two Mount Vernon officers, who could have arrested a homeless man for shoplifting.

Instead, they opened their hearts, and their wallets, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Tuesday.

At Dollar Tree, everything is, you guessed it, a dollar.

But you can't put a price on the compassion shown to a shoplifting suspect last Saturday.

"Arresting that man for the circumstances wasn't going to help him, so I decided at that point that I was gonna help him myself," Officer Chris Cartwright said.

Cartwright was wearing the body camera that recorded the incident.

"You staying in Mount Vernon? A little light on some socks?" Cartwright is heard saying.


The manager had called the police about a homeless man attempting to shoplift items.

The man was honest, admitting he was taking badly needed pairs of socks that he couldn't pay for.

Cartwright and his partner, Jason Velez, used their discretion to help the guy rather than haul him downtown in handcuffs.

"Every day they tell us we have discretion, and our leadership is always behind us. We just took that opportunity to do the right thing, what we thought was right," Velez said.

The right thing in this case?

"I'll buy you a couple of pairs of socks, but you gotta stop stealing 'em. Fair enough?" Cartwright says.

The officers paid for 15 pairs of socks and let the man go.

"Thank you very much. God bless you!" the man said.

"You gotta have empathy with people. You gotta sit there and look at it from their side," Cartwright said.

Police Commissioner Glenn Scott said it's the attitude he wants the entire force to exhibit.

"They're dealing with people. They're dealing with humans. They're dealing with people that have pride," Scott said.

There was a positive reaction from the public outside the store.

"I think it was noble of them to help him," resident Melissa Thomas said.

"That is what community policing is about," Sheryl Crawford added.

"There's nothing better than a nice fresh pair of socks," an officer says on video.

Especially when it could have been a pair of handcuffs.

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