Humble men like Lt. Monte Potier don’t do good deeds expecting something in return.
Or, in Potier’s case, 9,000 likes on Facebook.
But that’s exactly what the 22-year Lafayette Police Department veteran got after a touching picture of his generosity quickly garnered the grandfather of six widespread social media fame earlier this month.
“I was on the phone telling my dad how good and Christmas-y it made me feel,” Potier said. “I had no idea it would blow up like it did.”
A random act of kindness
It was another typical night for Potier working off-duty security at the new Rouse’s location on Johnston Street, when a little boy named MJ changed that. He ran up to officer and started reciting his name, his parents’ names and his address — a routine his mother, Casha Montgomery, told Potier she had been practicing with the 2-year-old in case he ever gets lost.
“He’s incredibly smart,” said Potier, a Rayne native. “His mom deserves so much credit.”
Potier thanked Montgomery for not only teaching MJ to do that, but to not fear law enforcement. A lot of parents use police as discipline, Potier said, like threatening to tell officers that their children are misbehaving to scare them into acting straight. But the moment was particularly special, Potier said, because officers have been depicted as corrupt and racist in the wake of the recent incidents of white officers using deadly force against black suspects across the United States.
Potier is white, and MJ is black.
“It’s good to know there are people out there who don’t paint all officers with the same brush,” Potier said.
As Potier and Montgomery were saying good-bye, MJ walked up holding a “Toy Story” puzzle, politely asking his mother if he could have it. Montgomery told him to put it back on the shelf, saying maybe he would get it for Christmas if he wrote Santa a letter. MJ’s bottom lip quivered, Potier recalled, but he respectfully complied with his mother.
“That just melted me,” Potier said.
Potier was “so impressed” with MJ, he bought him the puzzle. As they were leaving the store, Potier stopped MJ and said he had called Santa to tell him what “a good and smart boy you are.” The officer bent down and added, “He thought you should have this.”
“It did so much more for me than it did for MJ,” Potier said.
When Montgomery asked to take a picture of her son with the officer, Potier said he never considered what would become of it.
Later that night, Montgomery posted the photo — which has now been shared nearly 2,800 times — on Facebook. In the post, she described what happened, saying people need to see the picture that she thinks “shows that not all officers are bad.”
“Y’all this made my night and as you can see, it made MJ’s as well!!!” Montgomery writes in her post. “Thank you, sir. In a world so filled with hate it’s good to witness kindness.”
“It was very considerate for her to do that,” Potier said. “She and MJ are two very special people.”