[This post originally appeared on The Current’s website]
by Mary Lucia
Today, I woke up thinking how people are feeling powerless over other people’s pain; more specifically, communities in which people may fear the police.
I have been following this guy on Facebook; his name is Officer Tommy Norman, and he is a cop in North Little Rock, Ark., in a pretty downtrodden neighborhood, but his idea is, rather than be the squad car that just cruises through the neighborhood with windows rolled up, just kind of profiling people as he drives, Officer Norman is windows down, music bumping. He gets out of the car, he talks to people, he knows everybody’s name in this neighborhood, and all the kids come running when they see him. He’s kind of like Santa Clause 5-0, because he like has presence and brings them little gifts and clothes and food.
And it’s not just the children that he hangs with, although those are the best parts of his videos, but there’ll be an older guy who stumbles up to the squad car and Officer Norman will say, “Hey Fred, I heard you were in the hospital yesterday from heat stroke, you’ve gotta be careful,” and then he reaches across the seat and brings out all these cooling towels he picked up for him and this little personal fan and other things.
Officer Norman has a relationship with people, and he feels like, “This should be the most obvious thing in the world that all police officers should try to do. They should know who’s patrolling their neighborhood, and I should know who I’m keeping safe.”
He just does it in a very, very real way and has gained so many followers. I think it’s Killer Mike of Run the Jewels who set up a GoFundMe page for this guy. There’s a lot of people that are really in this guy’s corner because of the philosophy that he espouses of, “Stop the dehumanizing, let’s get to know people.” It’s like National Night Out every day for this guy. And it just does not feel like jive. For something to feel authentic and not agenda laden in a creepy way is a really nice thing to see.
So I’m just going to suggest that if you happen to be having a lot of indifferent feelings right now about people’s disconnection from each other, follow Officer Tommy Norman, and let me know what you think.