On September 18 of this year, the Police Department in Winter Haven, Florida, issued a statement via their Facebook page, publicly scolding a suspected shoplifter. The man in question had walked out of a local Walmart without paying for diapers and wipes. His situation was evidently desperate. His children were with him, and two different credit cards were declined.
The police actually noted this in their post (per other media outlets). They described the man as holding one child in his arms and holding another by the hand. The tone of the post was mocking, however. Police seemed to expect social media users to see what they saw: a criminal. “The poor little kids didn’t even know [about the theft],” their post snarked.
The internet, however, is largely comprised of parents. And parents saw another parent in dire straits making a desperate choice in order to care for his children. Most parents at some point make sacrifices or difficult choices to ensure that their children are healthy and safe.
The feedback the Winter Haven PD received was, to say the least, dissatisfied. Countless people offered outright to pay for the items out of their own pockets. They simply asked that the police leave the man alone, in return. Not content to quit while ahead, the police responded by issuing the following response through their Public Information office:
“Many people are upset with the police department [but] Walmart is the victim and they asked us to file the report and they want to press charges,” they explained.