For many kids today, seeing a police cruiser rolling through their neighborhood can incite fear and anxiety. That is far from the case in North Little Rock, Arkansas, however. In fact, when officer Tommy Norman is on the beat, the kids race to greet him for a hug and a handshake.
That’s in stark contrast to the terrifying headlines about police shootings we’ve seen in recent years. As a result of high tension around law enforcement, there has been a growing mistrust among the public. But Norman, a 28-year force veteran, is a firm believer in changing that perception with community policing. He works to connect with the community that he serves and show them that police are there to help, not hurt.
For Norman, that means dancing with the kids, playing games, going down a Slip 'n Slide and even letting them throw pies in his face. Those interactions have drastically changed the way these young people think about cops. “What is taking place is a movement,” he explained in an ATTN video. “A lot of people are hurting but we have to stick together.”
With the hashtags #CommunityPolicing and #StayCommitted, he shares his efforts with the world. He has 1.2 million followers on Instagram and 1 million on Facebook, and has inspired people all over the country. After viewing his videos, one Mississippi woman cried, telling him that he had single-handedly changed the way she viewed law enforcement.
He also has a profound impact on the people he arrests. A truck driver explained that when he was detained for shoplifting at a mall, the way Norman treated him with dignity and kindness changed his life. “Don’t talk down to them,” said Norman. “Your badge should have a heartbeat.”
So impressed with this officer, rap star The Game started a GoFundMe account to help with his efforts. He first learned about Norman from his son Harlem. They were talking about good and bad cops and Harlem "did his research & found officer @tnorman23’s page, [and I] was touched by how active he is in the black community where he polices,” the rapper shared on Instagram.
The original goal was $10,000 but the campaign has raised more than $72,000 so far. It’s money Officer Norman plans to use for activities for the kids and make a bigger difference in the community. Of his impact, he told Fox News, “We are proud to be inspiring the world and we will continue to do that.”