December 3, 2015 Portsmouth, N.H. Officer Michael Kotsonis was called to Ocean State Job Lots for a report of shoplifting to investigate. When he gathered the facts and found a suspect he went to the persons home and found the evidence right there but didn’t make an arrest. Instead he did something that nobody would ever have known about if not for a clerk at the store who wanted to share the story.
The stolen items were cake mix, Crisco and tubs of frosting which were found in the home of a young mother who wanted to bake her child a birthday cake but she couldn’t afford the ingredients.
Officer Kotsonis retrieved the ingredients and brought them back to the store and paid for them out of his own pocket. He then returned the ingredients to the young mother so she could bake that cake for her child.
Yes the woman had committed a theft, but the Officer could not in good conscience arrest the young woman for trying to do something for her child such as bake a birthday cake when there was no money to do so.
A clerk at the store found out what the officers intentions were and was so touched that she contacted SeaCoastOnline and told them the story stating: “With all these stories about bad cops, I thought y’all would love to hear this one,” said the store worker who asked not to be named. “He’s a Portsmouth police officer and I literally have never had such an amazing experience with an officer and I’m hoping he can get some sort of recognition.”
The officer himself would never have divulged what he had done either but was confronted about it for the story that appeared to be news worthy. He stated “I didn’t do it for the attention,” Kotsonis said. “What you do when no one is looking, that’s the character of someone.” He also stated that officers “do that kind of stuff all the time” adding “We don’t publicize it,” he said. “We don’t do stuff to brag about it. I don’t need an article to know what’s right and wrong.”
In recalling the story to the writer of SeaCoastOnline he stated: “he brought the items back to the store and told the manager, “I’d like to buy it for them.” “I’m not going to take away a kid’s birthday cake,” he recalled. “I ended up bringing it back to the mother.” Kotsonis said the mother didn’t steal the items for herself, adding, “it doesn’t make it right.” “But the kid shouldn’t have to pay,” he said.”
Acting Deputy Police Chief Frank Warchol said “Mike’s compassion took over. He used discretion and I guarantee the kids were happy,”
The acting Deputy Police Chief said he’s heard of other officers giving needy people gas and food money and typically doesn’t find out about it from the officers who did the good deeds. He said he never would have known about Kotsonis and the stolen cake ingredients, if not for a call from the Herald. “I know he doesn’t want the attention,” said the deputy chief. Kotsonis said an often unnoticed aspect of police work is helping people. “If you can help someone out,” he said, “you do.”