Officers say no to jail, shop with mother in need
Instead of taking a motorist to jail on warrants for unpaid tickets, a pair of Crowley officers had a better idea Friday evening.
Officer Cesar Robles got a dispatch return that Sterling Nichols' license was invalid. He decided to make a traffic stop to find out why.
"Upon approaching the vehicle, I saw two children in the back who were both probably five years old," Robles said. "I also saw she had all of her belongings in the vehicle."
Officer Harley Koch was assisting on the call, and together they devised a plan to help Nichols.
"It was pretty obvious she was down on her luck," Koch said. "We saw two children not properly restrained."
Robles wondered if Koch might want to escort Nichols to Walmart. They helped her shop for appropriate car seats, and then paid for them from their personal funds.
"Instead of citing her for it, we permanently took care of her problem," Koch said. "You can take corrective action by writing a citation. It wasn't going to help her to write a citation, if she already couldn't afford car seats."
The officers wrote Nichols a ticket for her other offenses, but agreed going shopping was the appropriate measure.
"It was a mutual agreement," Robles said. "We weren't going to tow her car and have to take her children. We didn't think that was the right thing to do."
The officers made Nichols' day. She took photos with the officers and took a video that she posted on her Facebook page.
"I got pulled over with no ID, warrants, and no car seats. I was suppose to be in jail," she wrote. "They didn't want to give me another ticket to make it harder on me, [and] instead they asked me to follow them to Walmart. I'm a big baby, so I started crying. It's nice to see people actually help people, instead of bring them down. Thanks to the two officers for the new seats."
Robles has children of his own and considered his own family during the traffic stop.
"We teach them to do for others," he said. "I thought about how I would like to be treated if the roles were reversed. I knew what we had to do."
In a culture where often the public jumps to conclusion of police on video, this was one time Robles said he was happy to have a video taken.
"She was just very appreciative," Robles said. "She was just so happy about it."
The officers learned one of Nichols' children had asked for a car seat for Christmas.
"That really drives home what a rough situation they were in," Koch said. "You just try to help the best you can."