by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
In a newsletter that appeared last year I quoted UNC Professor Jeff Welty’s reponse when I asked him why relations between the police and the public are generally pretty good in North Carolina. He said, “It may be due in part to the professionalism and policies of our law enforcement agencies.”
In a subsequent newsletter I drew attention to a specific example of the kind of professionalism Prof. Welty had in mind — the way the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s handling of the Jonathan Ferrell shooting helped the City and its citizens deal peacefully with that incident.
Last week the professionalism of the Charlotte police force was again on display in a widely viewed photo that appeared on the Department’s facebook page:
A photo of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Tim Purdy talking things out with a potentially suicidal teen with autism has wracked up thousands of shares online.
The incident happened last week in North Carolina. The teen had wandered away from his high school campus.
Purdy knew the teen had a history of violent behavior.
“I was just thinking to myself, ‘What are you going to do, what are you going to do? How are you going to handle that?'” he recalled.
Then, the teen sat down. And to create a connection with him, Purdy followed.
“I got down on my knees and kind of made that eye contact,” he said. “We just started talking and it went from there.”
They talked about school, about family and football. Pretty soon, they were both laughing.
“This is something that tens of thousands of law enforcement officers that are out there do every single day,” Purdy said in a video. “You just don’t hear about it.”