Acts of kindness by Susan Grimsdell
A couple of weeks ago two police officers from Hastings showed all of us how to help make society a better place in every way.
Shoplifting to feed family
They were called to a supermarket where a mother, with three small children in tow, had been caught stealing $50 worth of meat. She at once admitted taking it, and began to cry. She said she’d never done anything like that before, and she only did it because she just didn’t know any other way to get food for the family.
The officers could have arrested her, but they realised that would involve her in a court appearance and endless trouble including possibly a criminal record. They checked and found her record was clean. Instead of doing what many officers would automatically have done and issued her a summons, they chose a much better way. They gave her a pre-charge warning which met their rules and regulations but would keep her out of court.
They released her and then immediately contacted the Family Harm team. From there, a call went to a non-profit group called Nourished for Nil, and within half an hour a food box was produced. The officers found the woman at court where her partner was appearing, but the food box was too bulky for her to take it on the bus with the three kids, so the officers gave her a ride back in the patrol car.
The woman couldn’t thank them enough. This time she was crying because of their kindness. She was then referred to WINZ and other agencies to help her with budgeting, and there was a discussion about finding a job for her partner through the Community Policing staff.
This story shows our system working at its best. Community organisations, volunteers helping with food, budgeting service, even employment. But it all started because two police officers took some time, had an open mind, and with great kindness, found a way to help. They understood that punishment is destructive, but solutions help to make things better, for this particular woman and for everyone. They are an inspiration for us all.