Police officer shares secret to good community policing

BERKELEY, MO (KPLR) - An Arkansas cop is getting the VIP treatment in St. Louis.  Officer Tommy Norman of the North Little Rock Police Department is famous for his viral FacebookTwitter and Instagram posts.

For the first time, he's left Arkansas to share his approach to a job that seems to be tougher than ever. To him, it just shouldn't be that way.

He started posting videos of his trip from the airport.

He was cracking up his comrades as he spoke to police, local government leaders, and residents from across the St. Louis area in Berkeley, Wednesday afternoon.

He let them in his secret.

“Spend more time out of your police car than you do inside of it,” he said.  “Put more miles on your police boots than your police car.”

He truly “walks the walk” and posts the playful proof.

His approach to community policing has been a constant for his 18 years as an officer, he said.

His use of social media to promote started 3 years ago with a Facebook showing kids handcuffing him in the back of his police car.

“They’ll remember that forever.  I’m so glad they open the door back up,” he laughed.

When he posts about people in need, people from around the country send things to help.  The approach builds trust that helps solve and prevent crimes; that withstands turmoil of police shootings, he said.

It doesn’t come easy.

“You’ve got to come back the next day, the next day, and the next day.  So, year after year after year, those relationships – they don’t go away…when you drive that police car and park in front of that house, when those kids run to your police car…they really see past that police car and they see past the uniform. They see that friend, that big brother…as a police officer, your badge should have a heartbeat and not an ego,” he said.

His department had embraced the approach and crime was down there, said.  More than that, the relationship between the community and police just felt good.  The job was more fun and rewarding.

This is busy trip for Norman.  He's serving ice cream with St. Louis police Thursday on the Polar Cops ice cream truck, then throwing out the first pitch before the Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.