A New Hampshire police officer "paid it forward" in an unexpected way last month.
The Portsmouth Police Department was called to an Ocean State Job Lot store after a woman allegedly shoplifted baking ingredients on Nov. 19, Lt. Darrin Sargent told ABC News today. Police were able to track the woman down and Officer Michael Kotsonis went to her residence to interview her, Sargent said.
“She apologized and said the only reason she did it was because it was her son’s birthday and she just wanted to make him a birthday cake,” Sargent said. “Then she handed over the ingredients.”
That’s when Kotsonis decided to help the woman give her child a memorable birthday, Sargent said. He took the stolen items back to the store and immediately purchased them with money out of his own pocket.
“In his own words, he didn’t want to see the child go without a birthday cake based on [the woman’s] actions,” Sargent said.
Sargent said he was not surprised by Kotsonis’ kind gesture.
“He’s a family man, he’s been a police officer for 19 years,” Sargent said. “I think this happens a lot in law enforcement.”
Acting Deputy Chief Frank Warchol of the Portsmouth Police Department said the department "could not be more proud to have an officer like him" serving the Portsmouth community.
"Mike is an incredibly upstanding man. Even if he was not wearing the badge, he would have done the same thing," he said. "It certainly is not about the uniform but rather his measure of character."
Kotsonis’ kindness did not stop at buying cake ingredients. After paying for the ingredients, he helped out the store employee, who alerted the media to his story, in an “extraordinary” way.
“I wanted to let people know not only because of the stealing incident, but that day I also had a seizure and that officer came to my help,” the employee said.
After bringing the cake ingredients to the woman, Officer Kotsonis returned to the store to make sure the employee was OK after her seizure.
Warchol said the woman was not arrested at the time but could still face charges.