Police Officer Skateboards Into Community’s Heart
News| | By Jason Owen
After a rash of controversial videos in recent years involving police interaction with citizens, this story of a skateboarding police officer reminds us of the positive police stories that are sometimes overlooked.
Craig Hanaumi is a community station officer in Bellevue, Washington. Hanaumi has become a star in his hometown thanks to his community outreach initiative where he performs all sorts of activities while in his police uniform. In the below video, you can see that Hanaumi skateboards with local kids, teaches self-defense classes, plays trombone with students in music class, goes running and plays basketball with kids at the gym and park.
Hanaumi does all of these things to bridge the gap between police and citizens, particularly youth, in his neighborhood.
“It was easy to build a rapport with them because I could actually understand what they were talking about,” Hanaumi told the Today show. “I realized from that point on that skating was something I could use as a skill set to improve upon relationships with them.”
Hanaumi first gained social media fame after a video went viral of him skateboarding with kids in a bank parking lot. While many would have expected an officer to show up and give the kids a hard time, Hanaumi saw his younger self in those kids and recognized an opportunity to connect.
“From the ages of 10 to 13, all I did was skate every day,” added Hanaumi. “We were always trespassing because there were no skate parks, so I saw myself as a kid again in that situation.”
Hanaumi seems to understand that there can be natural barriers between citizens and law enforcement, but sees his special role as not only building trust, but providing an opportunity to address systemic issues that may be affecting neighborhoods.
“Building a rapport makes people more comfortable to come to us with information that we should know,” said Hanaumi, “and that makes it easier for us to de-escalate a problem.”
Responding to the increasing numbers of “negative coverage” of police brutality Hanaumi sees in the media, he said his ultimate goal is to show that there are plenty of positive stories as well.
“The amount of negative coverage is overwhelming, but in comparison, thousands of positive interactions happen across the country every day,” said Hanaumi. “A lot of times those are underreported or not deemed noteworthy, but I know that what we do is helping to mend that.”
To learn more about Hanaumi’s story, watch the inspiring video below. Please be sure to SHARE this skateboarding police officer’s story with your friends.