MANCHESTER, NH – During what has become an otherwise a routine call for police in the city of Manchester – a theft of property that appears to be drug-related – an arresting officer demonstrated what Assistant Police Chief Nick Willard calls “compassionate justice” by her act of spontaneous kindness toward the accused.
Officer Lisa Mackey bought the suspect an Egg McMuffin before arresting her.
According to police, Officer Mackey entered the McDonald’s on South Willow Street just before 9 a.m. looking for an alleged purse thief. She confronted Holly Solans, 20, who is pregnant and homeless and reportedly living out of a car with her boyfriend.
Mackey noted in her report that Solans was “disheveled,” and distraught. Solans told Mackey she was “desperate and hungry.”
Without hesitation, Officer Mackey decided to purchase a breakfast sandwich for Solans and let her eat it, allowing her to tell her side of the story before handcuffing her and taking her into custody. Solans was charged with receiving stolen property for the alleged theft of a designer Steve Madden purse from a Calef Road address, which contained an iPhone, wallet and assorted credit cards.
Solans’ boyfriend, Christopher Greene, 22, was also arrested outside the McDonald’s. Police used information provided by the theft victim to track down the getaway vehicle at the McDonald’s. Greene was waiting in the car. Police said he was found with a heroin-filled syringe inside the car, along with the stolen purse.
So yes. In the scheme of things, a breakfast sandwich is a small thing, says Willard.
But Willard says what Mackey did was demonstrate the true character of those who wear the badge. She’s just one of many Manchester Police officers who quietly and humbly perpetrate small but meaningful daily acts of kindness in a world of chaos.
“Sometimes the smallest gestures have the greatest impact. That compassionate gesture has the power to change another person’s life,” Willard says.
Officer Mackey joined Manchester Police Department in 2003 after nine years with Goffstown Police. She is scheduled to retire in March. Lt. Brian O’Keefe said she has worked as a patrol officer and a juvenile investigator.
“She is quite embarrassed about all the attention, and stated, ‘I only bought her a sandwich, so it really isn’t a big deal,'” adding that Officer Mackey would not be making any further comment. “This shows her humbleness – and that of most of our officers,” O’Keefe said.
Willard said the positive actions of police officers – not just in Manchester, but around the country – tend to get buried under the weight of public discourse about perceived actions of “bad cops.”
“As a leader of a police organization, what I’ve been finding most distressing about the national discourse is a growing lack of appreciation for law enforcement, from Ferguson to New York City. Believe me, every one of our officers is feeling the negativity,” says Willard.
“I know what these excellent men and women do, every day, through acts of what I call ‘compassionate justice.’ Most of these acts go unreported and unnoticed – even by me. In this case, we happened to hear about it,” says Willard. “I feel humbled when I address roll call because I know as soon as I’m done, they’re going out on the street responding to dangerous situations, mundane situations – the whole while, prepared to give their ives for the betterment of the community.”
What is lost in translation, when the national conversation around law enforcement turns hostile toward law enforcement, is that every officer who shows up for work on any given day is prepared to give their life, Willard says. They wear the badge as an outward symbol that they are willing to lose their lives thereby depriving their own families of their love, out of a deep sense of duty, to serve and protect their community.
“I see it every day. That’s what they’re prepared to do. As a leader, it pains me to see my officers go through such vitriol, the trickle-down effect from the nationwide backlash. In that way, I hope more stories like Officer Mackey’s become as prevalent as the stories out of Ferguson or New York City,” Willard says. “We as officers are much more than two negative incidents.”
Solans was released on $2,000 personal recognizance bail and is scheduled to appear in court on March 19. Greene was released on $1,000 personal recognizance bail and will appear in court on March 20, 2015.
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