Arkansas Police Officer Catches Parents Shoplifting in Walmart With Kids, Pays for Their Groceries

An Arkansas police officer has been praised after buying groceries for parents who were caught shoplifting food items from Walmart.

Field Training Officer Kenneth Martin, of the Fort Smith Police Department, has been awarded Employee of the Month for his sensitive response to the attempted theft, which occurred at a store on Zero Street on November 30 last year in front of two children, KFSM reported.

Body-worn camera footage showed FTO Martin purchasing items the couple had been caught with and bringing them back to the mother.

"Ring it all up again so I can pay for it. They're stealing food and they've got kids. I have to take him to jail, but I don't have to make the kids think I'm an a******," the officer could be heard telling cashiers, joking: "Don't let people know I'm a nice guy."

As seen in the footage, FTO Martin walked back to the front of the store, where the family was flanked by other officers, and placed the groceries into a shopping cart. While the man was detained, the woman was allowed to leave.

"I took care of these for you, OK?" Martin was heard telling the mother. "If you need help, ask for help. Don't do this, not with these babies. I understand this is food and things that you need, but ask for some help. Don't do this with these babies. Y'all go and have a better holiday."

On Facebook this week, Fort Smith City Director Neal Martin released a testimony from a fellow officer who witnessed the "kind act" and nominated FTO Martin for the award.

"FTO Martin's act of kindness is a true example of what humanity is all about," the testimony read. "He did this out of compassion for the kids, with no intention of being recognized for his actions. For this, I am honored to nominate FTO Martin for Employee of the Month. His actions were a representation of what we should all strive for." The fellow officer was not named.

In the state of Arkansas, theft offenses are "classified based on the dollar value of the property or services taken," according to the website of the Law Office of George B. Morton, P.A. The mother and father accused of trying to steal the Walmart items were not identified.

FTO Martin began his career with the Fort Smith Police Department in August 2015 after working in South Carolina and Arizona, according to his award bulletin posted online. "Happy New Year! Please help us congratulate our January Employee of the Month, FTO Kenneth Martin!" law enforcement officials wrote in a post which included an image of the officer.

Happy New Year! Please help us congratulate our January Employee of the Month, FTO Kenneth Martin!

Posted by Fort Smith Police Department on Wednesday, January 1, 2020