Officer George Morales of the Manchester Police Department in New Hampshire is being praised for a selfless act while patrolling a downtown business.
According to a Manchester NH Police Facebook post, Officer Morales was on a detail near the Market Basket store on Elm Street when he noticed a suspicious man leave the store with a backpack without purchasing anything.
After stopping the young man, he found a few unpaid food items, but nothing to indicate criminal activity like alcohol. So, out of sympathy he offered to pay for the food rather than charge the young man with a crime.
“It was then apparent to me, this was just a young person going through hard times. He was just hungry,” said Officer Morales in a statement. “I then offered to purchase the items of food for him, I asked him to please apologize to the store manager. He then began to cry, and agreed. The store manager was satisfied with the resolution, and we then parted ways on good terms.”
Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg praised Officer Morales for his actions, saying it was consistent with Morales’ character and was the right way to go about the situation.
“He’s one of our newer officers, under a year on the force, and by all accounts he has a good head on his shoulders,” said Aldenberg. “It doesn’t surprise me at all based on what I know about his character and how he conducts himself. Sometimes that’s the best way to handle the situation, rather than introducing a young person to the system. It’s a good story, and sometimes we need that.”
An unidentified customer at Market Basket who witnessed the event took to social media to give their side of the story. They were initially worried that a bad scene might unfold, but it turned out to be very positive.
The post reads, “I am waiting in the express line I see a Manchester police officer come in with a young man. I am thinking uh oh — they proceed to another cashier, where the young man removes some food items from his backpack. I am still thinking this might go bad; the young man leaves the line and grabs a Gatorade as the officer pulls out his debit card and pays for the items, including the Gatorade. The young man apologized to the cashier and manager and expressed such gratitude for the officer.”
The customer said they offered to reimburse Morales or even buy him a dinner for his actions, but he said “no thank you.” The post reads, “I told him how much I appreciated seeing a possible bad situation turn out positive. He thanked me and just asked (if I was) ever in the same situation to just pay it forward.”
The “thank you’s” from community members to Morales poured in on social media after the department’s post.
Hopefully the event will have a positive impact on the young man’s life, as well as those in the community who witnessed it.