Police officer buys diapers for mother he arrested for stealing them

- A police officer bought diapers for a woman accused of stealing them after he realized she could not afford them for her two-year-old son.

Rookie Officer Bennett Johns says he was called to the Giant store on Fairlawn Street this weekend for a report of a woman stealing $15 worth of diapers. When Johns spoke to the woman and realized she was struggling to buy other items for her toddler, he reached into his own pocket and paid for the diapers.

Officer Johns did have to issue the woman a criminal citation for theft, but he says he felt compelled to make the purchase for her.

"This mother was going out of her way and doing everything she can to provide for her kid and I can respect that," said Johns. "I can sympathize with that as well so that is why I felt compelled to help the mother in purchasing the diapers for the kid."

Johns says he saw the struggling family reflected in his own.

"I see [the toddler] and I see myself growing up with a single mother and I want him to have a better life too," Johns said.

Laurel Police Chief Richard McLaughlin says what his officer did is the kind of community policing his department aspires to do on a daily basis.

"I'm very proud of my officers," said McLaughlin. "All of my officers and particularly this one. I think it speaks volumes that they are doing the right thing for the right reason when nobody is watching."

Laurel Mayor Craig Moe also says it is the city's goal to have all its employees help citizens regularly.

"They do many many things that the general public doesn't really see," said Moe. "They work hard at it. I can tell you that and we are going to continue to make sure we reach out to the community."

Officer Johns says the mother will need to appear in court while the legal process plays out with her citation. The theft charge is a misdemeanor.

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