On Wednesday, Oct. 9, Pasadena Police Officers Joe Longoria and Darryl Harris began their work duties as usual, not knowing who or what they would encounter. Little did they know that a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter would factor into the equation.
The two officers, who have more than 20 years of police experience, have seen the best and the worst of humanity during their time serving Pasadena. So when they were called to the scene of a “shoplifter” who was being followed by personnel from a local grocery store, the two men initially thought it was another routine case involving alcohol theft or something stolen to easily re-sell for drugs.
Officers located and detained the suspect. They could have taken him to jail right away, but their experience told them this case was different, especially involving a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. They took the time to investigate a little deeper; to find out whether the man was a repeat thief or simply hungry. It was hunger. He was also homeless; suffering from mental health issues and clearly in need of help.
“The officers could have easily applied the letter of the law and taken him to jail. Instead, they applied the spirit of the law, facilitated his release and volunteered themselves to pay the store for what he had taken,” according to their supervisor, Pasadena Police Sgt. Kathryn Jorge.
“The store manager refused payment and allowed the officers to resolve the situation with compassion and allowed a fellow human being to keep his dignity,” said Jorge, who was also on the scene, and both “observed and approved” how the case was handled.
“They handled the matter with humanity, respect and compassion, not to avoid work,” she said.
And so when City Manager Michael Beck recently asked employees to tell him about outstanding examples of how fellow employees serve the public, Sgt. Jorge sent the City Manager a note about the incident involving Officers Longoria and Harris.
I am proud to serve alongside these officers and the rest of the men and women like them who make up this police department,” Jorge added. “They do this, day in and day out, without recognition and I just thought somebody should know.”
Thank you Officers Joe Longoria and Darryl Harris and Sgt. Kathryn Jorge.