Being a kid can be tough, especially when you come from a disadvantaged background. You take all the typical pressures and problems that come with growing up and add uncertainty about where your next meal will come from and it’s a lot to deal with.
Coming from those circumstances, it can be easy for a kid to start travelling down a wrong path. When one police officer encountered such a kid, he decided to take “protect and serve” to a whole new level…
Family of Cops
Che Milton was from a law enforcement family. His father was a retired police lieutenant and his brother is an officer in Detroit, near where Che grew up. He went back and forth about whether or not he would take up the family trade but eventually Che became Officer Milton.
If you thought nothing else about Officer Milton at first glance, you’d think that he cut a striking figure. Standing at 6-foot-7 with a square jaw, he looked like he could handle just about any dangerous situation an officer would face on any given day…
Fresh Out Of The Academy
What Officer Milton’s imposing appearance did a good job of hiding was that he was fresh out of the academy. The rookie cop, assigned to the rough part of Atlanta’s northwest side, was in fact just days on the job.
On his 4th day as an officer, Che got his first call early in the shift. It was a fairly routine call where the employees of a Family Dollar discount store had caught a shoplifter. It would be an easy situation for even a rookie cop to handle…
A Kid In Trouble
But when he arrived at the Family Dollar, Officer Milton was facing an unexpected situation. The shoplifter caught by the employees was just a 12-year-old girl and the item she’d been trying to steal was a $2 pair of shoes too small for her own feet.
“She’s crying, bawling. Tears everywhere,” Officer Milton said. “She was upset she was caught stealing.” The girl, whose name was Heaven, told Officer Milton that she was stealing shoes because her 5-year-old sister needed them and her parents didn’t have the money to buy them…
Rather than following the letter of the law and putting the 12-year-old in cuffs, Officer Milton decided to practice some discretion. “I couldn’t put her in the system, being 12 years old, for stealing some [$2] shoes,” he said. “I’d rather just take her home and see what’s going on.”
Taking Her Home
Officer Milton found out from Heaven where she lived and sat the girl inside his squad car. On the short, half-mile ride back to her house, Heaven cried the whole time. Even though she had explained why she felt the need to steal the $2 shoes, Officer Milton was not prepared for what he saw when he arrived at Heaven’s home…
Officer Milton parked in front of Heaven’s small home then walked with her inside.”That’s when I saw the conditions — how the conditions were in the house,” he said. Inside were Heaven’s mother Shameek Staples, 4 siblings and not much else. They had little food and not much in the way of furniture. They didn’t even have beds, instead putting sheets down on the floor to sleep on.
Because she couldn’t afford daycare for her children, Shameek was unable to work. Instead, her husband was almost never home because he was always working in order to support the family. Heaven tried to do her best to support her mother in raising her siblings. “It was very rough for them,” Officer Milton said, “It just pulled on my heartstrings.”…
Can’t Shake It
Officer Milton explained the situation to Shameek and told her he wasn’t going to arrest Heaven. He left them with just a warning and returned to work. But during the rest of his shift, Officer Milton couldn’t stop thinking about Heaven.
Call to Action
Officer Milton thought about the reason he became a police officer, which was to protect and serve. He thought about the kind of poverty that would lead a girl to try and steal some $2 shoes and then, he decided he was going to do something about it…
After his shift had ended, Officer Milton went back to the Staples’ home with 4 large pizzas and some 2-liter bottles of soda. When Shameek opened the door and saw Officer Milton standing there with dinner for the whole family, she got emotional. “The mom got teary-eyed. Me…” Officer Milton said, choking up as he recalled, “I got emotional as well”
Officer Milton’s two acts of kindness, letting Heaven off for shoplifting and bringing her family dinner, would have probably gone unnoticed if another officer on duty hadn’t said something to their supervisor. When Officer Milton was called into the supervisor’s office, he thought he was in for a tongue lashing…
Instead, his supervisor wanted to commend Officer Milton for his compassion. He made Officer Milton the officer of the month, the same month he graduated from the academy. Word of his generosity spread through the police department and through the local community.
As more and more people learned about the Staples’ situation, donations began to trickle in. From time to time, Officer Milton would stop by their home to drop off donated food, diapers, clothing, and household supplies. Shameek always greets him with a hug…
God Bless and Protect You
One of the most notable contributions was a gift card from a retired school librarian. She enclosed a letter with it saying “I have seen some students face difficult home situations. I pray that [the Staples’ get] a new start and a better life,” adding “May God bless and protect you, Officer Milton, and your police force as you face each challenging day.”
Shameek is so grateful for the help that Officer Milton gave to her family and the generosity his actions inspired, saying that he “has been a blessing to our family. When you have a lot of kids, you are constantly in need of things, and he’s helped to fill some of those needs.”…
Pay It Forward
Officer Milton’s actions have even inspired Heaven to do volunteer work and to give to those in need. Telling her mother “we have stuff that’s too little for [her younger siblings] that we can give away,” she’s donated what they could spare to others who can use it.
Protect and Serve
When asked about his generosity, Officer Milton simply said “It’s just who I am and just what I’ve been around my whole life,” making sure to note that many of his fellow officers have done similar kind acts. “I’m here to help protect and serve,” he added, “and that is what I’m going to continue to do.”