Acts of Kindness
Kindhearted cop buy trespassing teen gym membership instead of putting him on cuffs
We need more officers like this.
Elijah Chan
07.11.22

Doing the right thing doesn’t always mean following the rules.

Moreover, a “crime” doesn’t always need a punishment. Most of the time, “perpetrators” just need space and understanding.

Pexels - Spencer Lind
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Pexels - Spencer Lind

A staff member from a gym in Chicago was surprised because of how a cop acted after he reported a case of trespassing. It only goes to show that compassion can be as potent as handcuffs.

It has been the third time since Justin Pritchett caught a teen trespassing in their gym.

The teen, Vincent Gonzales, was using the facility’s basketball court without permission. Pritchett gave the teen verbal warnings on each occasion.

Pexels - Pixabay
Source:
Pexels - Pixabay

Besides being a minor that needs their guardian’s permit before using gym facilities, Pritchett also pointed out that his membership has already expired.

Pritchett understood Gonzales, however, but can’t do much about it.

“I felt for the kid. He really did just want to play basketball, but it was a policy enforcement issue more than anything,” Pritchett told ABC News. “I said, ‘If you sneak in again, I’ll have to call the cops.'”

Pexels -
Ivan Samkov
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Pexels -
Ivan Samkov

It reached a point where they printed out his expired membership card so that staff members, old or new, can identify Gonzales if ever he was on the court.

This didn’t stop Gonzales.

Pritchett finally decided to call the cops just to “spook” the kid. Officer Mario Valenti responded to the scene and tried to understand what was happening.

Pexels - William Choquette
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Pexels - William Choquette

“Officer Valenti approached him with a stern and authoritative demeanor and said, ‘Hey kid, you know you can’t be in here, man, grab your stuff,'” Pritchett said to ABC.

But instead of just throwing him out, Officer Valenti did something astonishing.

When Valenti knew why Gonzales kept doing what he was doing, the police officer made a surprising proposition.

Pexels - Victor Freitas
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Pexels - Victor Freitas

According to ABC, Officer Valenti then pulled out his personal debit card and asked Pritchett what he could get the boy for $150.

People were stunned by how the police officer acted.

Instead of putting the boy in cuffs, he addressed the root cause of the issue. He knew that Gonzales just wants to play basketball. He just couldn’t afford it.

Pexels - Ziad Nr
Source:
Pexels - Ziad Nr

When asked why he bought the kid part of the membership, Valenti just said that his more than two decades in the job taught him how to “size people up”. He felt that Gonzales was “a gentle type of kid”.

Pritchett commended the police officer for choosing the path of compassion.

“He immediately took the initiative of the helping route — instead of doing just his job and doing the right thing, he did the better thing,” Pritchett said to ABC.

Pexels - Wallace Chuck
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Pexels - Wallace Chuck

The gym then provided Gonzales with a two-year all-inclusive gym membership. They shouldered the remaining balance and just asked Gonzales to have a waiver signed by his guardians.

The public also commended the cop’s actions.

“The reaction to this whole case and outpour of public sentiment has been great and really appreciated,” Skokie Police Public Information Officer Eric Swaback said to ABC. “Positive stories and these kinds of things happen daily, but they just don’t always get reported. We don’t look for notoriety. We’re just doing our jobs.”

The Skokie Police Department and X-Sports then created a program that would help sponsor others in the community who do good deeds.

Watch how an act of compassion from a cop made all the difference.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By Elijah Chan
hi@sbly.com
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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