Police show moments of kindness in viral stories

Recent stories spread via social media reveal acts of compassion by police officers, offering a more balanced portrait in the midst of strained relations between police and local communities. 

Chris LaChall/AP/file
President Barack Obama speaks to a group composed of Camden County Police Officers and Camden youth on Monday, May 18 in Camden, N.J.

Kazzie Portie of Orange, Tex., was just a few days away from graduating high school when police officer Eric Ellison told him that both of his parents had been killed in a car crash.

Kazzie, stunned by the news, told Ellison that he had no idea what to do.

“I said, ‘You are going to walk!’” Ellison told BuzzFeed News. “Your mom and dad will have front-row seats looking down from heaven, and I’ll stand in their place. I’ve got your back.”

Ellison kept his word and not only came to Kazzie’s graduation, but waited for him offstage as he received his diploma. The entire auditorium erupted into applause at the sight of them tearfully embracing each other.

Other videos sharing stories of police kindness have gone viral in recent weeks, contrasting some of the sharp backlash against law enforcement in past months, following the high-profile deaths of African Americans of Ferguson, Mo.; Eric Garner of Staten Island, New York; and Freddie Gray of Baltimore, Md. in police custody. 

In May, a young black man in Virginia was helped by a white police officer who noticed that his back tire had blown out.

The young man's mother, Nada Owusu, took to Facebook to thank the officer.

“This kind officer approached him, didn’t ask if the little Mercedes was stolen but rather got on his knees to replace his tire,” she wrote.

She told CBS affiliate WTVR that, “There’s a lot of good in this world and people want to hear positive stories.”

“As far as I was concerned, there was a good person waiting with my son. I didn’t care if he was green, blue, yellow.”

In Newport News, Va., a mom recorded a police officer playing with the neighborhood kids.

He let the kids sit in his cruiser and even allowed a lucky few to test out his siren. The video ends with him hugging one of the children and teaching the other kids how to do a special handshake.

Jessica McGlone, the mom who recorded the encounter, told WTKR, “We’ve seen so much negativity this past year and just to see something positive and a change, that’s why I wanted to record it. It was just so beautiful to see.”

Both the instance on the road and the video from the neighborhood involved white police officers and black community members, a relationship that has been under intense scrutiny after events in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore, Md. 

As the Christian Science Monitor reported last month, the police department in Camden, N.J. has seen dwindling crime rates after taking to the streets and engaging with the community. Louis Tuthill, a professor of criminology at Rutgers University, spoke with NPR about how a foot-saavy police force affects crime rates.

“What I found is that for all crime scenes, generally the foot patrols decreased crime between about ten percent and 19 percent, depending on the quarter.” 

President Obama called Camden "a symbol of promise for the nation." 

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