Finding love at first sight in the police department’s holding cell after you’ve been arrested at a college party isn’t exactly your typical romantic recap for the grandkids.
But that’s exactly what happened for Matt Van Vliet and Samantha Labo, both 22, during their freshman year at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H.
“We got in trouble our freshman year and that’s the first time we met,” Vliet told GoodMorningAmerica.com of their unfortunate first encounter.
The two lovebirds were cleared of their underage drinking charges that night after taking breathalyzers, and now, four years later, are engaged to be married.
But just like the unconventional way they met, Vliet thought it was only appropriate to once again incorporate the cops in furthering their romantic journey toward matrimony.
“He called me up and said, ‘Hi my name is Matt. You probably don’t remember, but you arrested me four years ago,’” recalled Chief Edward Andersen, the couple’s arresting officer. “When you hear that you go, ‘Oh boy, what’s coming down the tube now?’ But because our holding area is how they met, he felt it would only be fitting if we assisted in the proposal.”
The plan was set. Andersen agreed to take part in Vliet’s elaborate fake arrest plot during his off-duty hours on Sept. 20.
Vliet and Labo had just graduated from college and were driving to a big dinner with all their friends to celebrate before leaving town. But unbeknownst to Labo, they wouldn’t make it to the restaurant before yet another run-in with the law.
“We got pulled over and the cop was being so rude,” Labo said. “Matt was driving so I asked what we did wrong because we were going the speed limit, and he [Andersen] just gave me a rude remark back and I started crying.”
Andersen was so convincing he told both of the recent graduates to step out of the vehicle, all the while tears were streaming down Labo’s face.
“I have a warrant for your arrest,” Andersen can be heard saying in the dash cam video capturing the entire fake traffic stop.
“When he took me over to the front of his car and started to put the cuffs on me, I told him we have to hurry this up because she’s crying so much,” Vliet explained of the convincing arrest. “He pretended to put the cuffs on me, and as he was patting me down, he took the ring out of my pocket and asked me what it was.”
Labo remained clueless as to what her soon-to-be fiancé could possibly have in his pocket that would cause the police chief concern, but she quickly started to put all it all together once Vliet started approaching her, now visibly not wearing handcuffs, eventually getting down on one knee.
“I was like, ‘Wait, is this really happening right now?’ I thought I was dreaming,” Labo said of the shocking ordeal. “It was just amazing. I went from being completely terrified to completely happy.”
Despite the rollercoaster of emotions, Labo said “Yes,” and the happy couple are planning to wed next year on Aug. 22.
“It went perfect, better than I could imagine,” Vliet said, adding of his new law enforcement friend, “I didn’t think he’d act so well.”