Protect And Serve With Compassion

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Law Enforcement for most people include some flashing lights in your review mirror when you’ve been going just a bit too fast.

Law enforcement is that line between good and evil, and at times people step over that line for various reasons and find themselves in legal trouble.

Because an officer arrests a subject, doesn’t mean that they don’t have compassion, or maybe even understand the reason why someone may have committed a crime. An officer is there to enforce the laws.

An instance of that took place recently when Oskaloosa Police Officer Austin Rogers arrested a subject from their former employer for theft.

While listening to the individual, describe the situation, Rogers, heard how they had stolen food from their employer 20 of the past 30 days.

There was something different here, and for Rogers, there was something very believable about the story the suspect was telling.

The law said that Rogers had to take the individual into custody. “it was one of those things that was hard. You don’t find many people being as honest as he was, and actually believing him.”

Most times, officers have difficulty believing what a suspect is telling them. “It’s hard to believe people that we arrest when they’re giving us some kind of story or statement as to what had happened.”

“This kid was very believable as to what he was doing,” Rogers added. “He was understanding. He knew that he had done wrong. I asked him what should happen in this scenario, and he said to go to jail. So he knew what he had done and that he did wrong.”

Rogers did take the individual to the Mahaska County Jail and began the booking process. “But before he had actually gotten booked in, things kind of turned for the better for him.”

What happened next for this individual was uncharted territory for Rogers during his five years as a police officer.

“I talked to Chief again, and I asked him what the possibility was of getting this guy out,” Rogers said as he picked up the phone to call the county attorney’s office. “I explained to them the situation, and they said that if he could come up with the amount of money that was stolen in food, before they started the booking and the process to get him booked in, that he could be released with no charges.”

So Rogers once again reached out to Oskaloosa Police Chief Benjamin Boeke, explaining what the county attorney’s office had just said. “They don’t most commonly do that.”

“He wasn’t stealing steaks; he was stealing things to feed his belly,” said Rogers.

During the past 20 days, the subject had taken approximately $41.00 in food and would need to pay that back before he was booked in for the crime.

Rogers began to search his contacts to get some money for him to get out. Before that happened, Chief Boeke returned with the needed money from an unnamed source.

Rogers says he honestly doesn’t know where that money came from, “Chief has a really good heart, and I could see it coming from Chief himself.”

Rogers then goes back upstairs to the jail and explained to the individual what was going on. “The look on his face was kind of like, are you serious?”

Rogers showed him the cash, and told him they would go back to the store with the money in the same patrol unit he had ridden to jail in with hand-cuffs on, he was now back in, without hand-cuffs, looking to make things better.

“I gave him the cash and said, let’s walk in together and find the manager,” said Rogers of their arrival back at the store.

The store accepted the cash, and Rogers and the individual left the store.

Rogers asked the individual if he was hungry and how much food he had. “I let him go pick out a bunch of frozen pizzas on me.”

Rogers then shared information about the resources that were available in the community for those in need of food assistance.

During the conversation between the two, Rogers learned that the individual was from out of state, and came to Oskaloosa to get out of a bad situation.

Rogers called the individual “a really decent kid that I really, honestly, truly believed.”

Police officers, like Rogers, encounter homeless and hungry people on a regular basis. We asked if there was something special about this instance that caught his attention.

“There was. If you would have asked me when I first started whether or not I would do such a thing, I would honestly say I probably wouldn’t. As an officer, I’ve grown. I’ve learned to realize that some people are really in tight situations, and the reality of this situation was that he was honestly hungry.”

Chief Boeke spoke about the special circumstance this case became. “Our job is not always just about finding crimes and arresting the bad guy, putting them in jail.”

“Sometimes our job involves going above and beyond to do the right thing,” Boeke added. “So, in this situation, this gentleman, he had committed a crime. He had been stealing food from a place that he worked, he had lost his job, and we had arrested him.”

“In talking with different people within the community, the decision was made, we could probably do more good for the community and for this gentleman by helping him and getting him back on his feet instead of pressing charges.”

Boeke said the individual didn’t have a criminal background, and he didn’t have any major issues in his past. “So it’s one of those things where sometimes justice is best served by not making arrests.”

Oskaloosa News asked Boeke if during his time in law enforcement if he had seen many situations like this before. “No,” he answered.

“Situations that could have or should have been? Yes, absolutely.”

We asked Boeke how this situation made him feel. Boeke said he doesn’t like to second guess his officers, but when he originally heard about the incident, he began to wonder if arresting and charging the individual “is really what we have to do. So when Austin (Rogers) came back to me and said, listen, this is a different situation than we deal with. What do you think about this? I was one-hundred percent on board with it.”

With much of the bad press law enforcement gets today, a glimpse into the good things law enforcement does rarely gets the same amount of press. On the good things that officers do, Boeke said, “This happens all the time. I mean, if you’re in the business and you know police officers, you’ll hear stories like this all the time. It’s just not usually advertised.”

Boeke and Rogers say that this individual hasn’t been arrested for any other crimes since the food theft incident.

A Facebook post on the Oskaloosa Police Department shared another recent example of the good things police officers do.

An unnamed Oskaloosa Police Officer came across an individual walking back to Wyoming from the East Coast where he had been visiting a dying relative.

While on the East Coast, this individual had their cash stolen. Between walking and getting rides from police officers along the way. “He was a mess and needed help,” the Facebook post said.

“Enter — Oskaloosa. Within about an hour, his feet were cleaned up, he was fed, community churches were contacted for help, and I believe I even saw a person take a $100 bill out of their own pocket to help buy a bus ticket to WY. No more walking or hitching. No more sore, injured feet.”

If you want to have a chance to meet some of Oskaloosa and Mahaska County’s finest, National Coffee With A Cop Day will be hosted on October 2nd, from 2 to 4 pm at The Brickhouse Cafe.

Posted by on Sep 16 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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