People Love This Cop’s Twitter Feed About the Daily Work of Community Policing

Share on Facebook

Police officers have an incredibly hard job. Their very lives are on the line every single day. The danger is real, possibly lurking around any corner. With so many stories of excessive force, police abuses of power, corruption, coverups, racism, and brutality, it’s hard to remember that good cops are out there doing good work every day.

Something is missing in the stories that fill the news — humanity. Gone are the days of the neighborhood cop walking his beat, chatting with shopkeepers, neighbors, and school kids. Our police are now equipped like a military force, which makes our towns the war zone and our citizens the enemy.

But the good cops are out there. We just don’t usually hear about them.

His Twitter feed is filled with brief descriptions of his brand of community policing. It seems that he believes his role as a police officer includes assisting and protecting the people in his town. Unfortunately, this feels fresh and new.

These tweets convey a community servant using his position and influence to make a positive impact. Each encounter he describes reinforces this. He’s out there making his community better one person at a time. In an era when we mostly hear stories of police behaving badly, using unwarranted force, and being armed to the teeth, Skinner’s stories give us hope.

We often hear stories that start this way, but end with an unarmed man, or child, being shot to death. It was “nothing big,” a small infraction. With the wrong mindset on the part of the cop, these small infractions turn deadly for the citizen all too often.

This person’s insurance had lapsed. Had a law been broken? Yes. The man shouldn’t have been driving. Was Skinner’s life in immediate danger because of a motor vehicle infraction? No. Did Skinner pull out his gun? No.

In every instance of simple traffic stop ending with the cop shooting the driver, the critical first step of calm conversation is skipped entirely. The cop sees a broken taillight, runs the plates, maybe sees another minor infraction, and pulls his gun. He is instantly in fear for his own life. Most people we all encounter in our daily lives don’t want to harm us, aren’t violent, and aren’t criminally minded. Somehow, it seems, cops have forgotten this.

He did not accuse the guy of purposely breaking the law. He explained that his insurance had lapsed, and why that’s a problem, and then asked him about it. Maybe the man had an explanation. Maybe he didn’t know. Not every encounter with a cop has to be a “gotcha” situation.

Skinner could have had the car towed. That was completely within his rights. Instead, they made a phone call together.

“Gun in my face is an emergency; everything else can be resolved slowly.” This is the kind of perspective we all hope most cops have. Maybe they do. We don’t hear the stories of good cops doing good police work often enough.

Hopefully there are many cops like Skinner throughout our communities. The stories that make headlines are the bad apples. But there’s a culture of violence, mistrust, and “shoot firs”t that comes from the top of our police forces. New recruits are trained in this culture and it permeates every level of law enforcement. Even the good apples go bad in a toxic environment.

Skinner’s Twitter feed is full of acts of kindness, of going the extra mile, of taking the time to talk to those around him. He faces his shifts with the idea that the citizens he’ll encounter are good, regular people who may have problems he can help with, rather than criminals who are trying to get away with something or who are going to hurt him if given the opportunity.

There are no awards for all these small interactions. Accolades, promotions, and recognition don’t come from taking the time to talk to a man on a park bench, or the shop owners with the noise complaint. The good cops go out there and do their jobs every day simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Skinner doesn’t deny or make excuses for the bad cops. He doesn’t get defensive or explain how hard and dangerous the job is. He acknowledges that there’s a problem that needs fixing. And with his actions, day in and day out, he’s out there doing his best to fix it. Great job, Officer Skinner! Let’s hope that there are many more like you patrolling our communities. Thank you for sharing your stories, and keep them coming!