Most people in Central Arkansas have heard of Tommy Norman. More importantly, many know him as Officer Tommy Norman of the North Little Rock Police Department.
He is known by the work he is doing in the community. He has over a million Facebook and Instagram followers and over 20,000 Twitter followers. In other words, a lot of people care about what is doing. What is he doing? He’s reaching people where they live. He is way past task forces and community meetings. He’s taking action. He’s helping the hurting.
He has his own Wikipedia listing. Under the subhead of “National Recognition,” it says:
Norman has gained national and international attention for his unconventional methods of law enforcement. ] The national and international expose of Tommy Norman came from a televised CNN News cable program on May 10, 2015 during an interview on Newsroom with its host Brooke Baldwin and her guest Atlanta activist and rapper Killer Mike. Killer Mike reveals professes that Norman is “doing something right” and that is connecting with inner city youth, in particular minority communities of color.
He was also featured in the Today show on November 8, 2015. This report featured some of the day-to-day activities he does with the neighborhood and specifically how he is well liked by children. Reporter Kerry Sanders has coined the term “Social Media Cop” for him.
He is — or was — a prolific poster on social media, including videos showing him interacting with the community, especially kids. But now the North Little Rock Police Department says Norman can no longer post photos or videos while on duty. The department doesn’t see the forest for the trees.
“The department greatly supports the work that Officer Norman has done and will continue to do in our community,” the Police Department said in a statement.
It continued: “The North Little Rock Police Department would like to clear up any confusion concerning Officer Tommy Norman that was created yesterday from Officer Norman’s Social Media post. Officer Norman was not told that he could not post events on social media as he has done in the past. He was advised that we have a policy regarding these actions and all officers are expected to follow the policy and he would need to have any on-duty postings approved through our Media Relations Unit. The department greatly supports the work that Officer Norman has done and will continue to do in our community.”
I had the pleasure of presenting Officer Norman an award for Communicator of the Year presented by the International Association of Business Communicators. He was gracious in accepting the award and displayed a true passion in his quest to make a difference.
While social media are shining a negative light on law enforcement (many times rightfully so), the NLRPD should encourage Officer Norman and others who are doing good to put evidence of their work out on the Internet without restriction.
In light of the recent and increasing violence, this is one approach that has an undeniable impact. Love is action.
Police cannot be everything to everyone
Our police forces have an incredible amount of pressure on them to solve myriad problems. They do everything from responding to acts of violence to working fender-benders in parking lots. And now they are being thrust into responding to drug overdoses and administering lifesaving antidotes while awaiting the arrival of paramedics.
Maybe there should be more study on the possibility of having a traffic patrol division that strictly deals with traffic accidents and minor violations while leaving the heavy-duty work to better-trained officers. Just a thought.
Pickles Gap Creek Crafts for sale
When I was in college, one of my summer jobs was working at Pickle’s Gap Creek Crafts (now Pickles Gap Village) just outside of Conway on Highway 65. I had two jobs. I cut staves for decorative milk churns and I cut the pieces for the legendary Do-Nothing. It consisted a block of wood, a turn crank and two opposing pieces of wood that would pass precariously close to each other as you turned the crank — accomplishing absolutely nothing. The first fidget spinner if you will.
I noticed recently that the whole shootin’ match is for sale and probably will be transformed into something else. Not a big demand for butter churns and Do-Nothings these days.
See you on the Boulevard. Stop the violence.
Neal Moore is a public relations and advertising consultant and freelance writer. If you have a community concern, Maumelle news tip or if you’re just irritated about something, contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.