Every year, the Essence Festival attracts more than 450,000 visitors to New Orleans to participate …
Officer Tommy Norman is humble — really humble. The North Little Rock star, who is always the Southern gent, pauses on the way to our interview to tend to more important matters. Beaming as he strides forward, Norman bends down and shakes the hand of a handicapped fan — one completely decked in Stephen Curry attire, labeled with the powerful saying “I can do all things.”
Observing from their brief meeting, it was clear that the fan felt empowered to “do all things” just after his small encounter with Officer Norman. This heartfelt exchange of human interaction is but a small example of the hope that Officer Norman instills. For the 19-year veteran officer, what we witnessed was nothing out of the norm, it was just his heart.
“I’m really a simple person. I’m plain,” Officer Norman drawled as we eased into a quiet corner. “I don’t see what others see. I don’t know why I’m here — because what I do, to me, is normal.”
This coming from a man whose community policing efforts draws national attention, inspires viral social media buzz, spurs radical change, and attracts a global following of over 2.3 million followers.
From there, Norman would head to Selma, Alabama for the historic Bridge Crossing Jubilee, but lest we forget that weeks prior to his Dallas arrival, the veteran officer made an appearance with two young girls he inspires at the 59th annual GRAMMY’s. Yet, he still fails to see what others see.
It’s been roughly a decade since Officer Tommy Norman turned to social media for community policing enhancement, and he has no plans of stopping his systematic postings anytime soon.
“I wouldn’t be here [#MOCO2017] if it wasn’t for social media,” the candid officer admitted. “It’s a second job, but I’m hooked on the social media concept now because of the feedback I receive. I receive hundreds of messages a week from people that are so inspired…[just] because of what is going on with police officers around the world.”
And while the concept of community policing is not entirely new, the fusion of the practice with social media is the key to Norman’s success. But something even more fundamental beholds the reason Officer Norman is the viral sensation that he is today.
“Your badge should have a heartbeat and not an ego.”
“You have to treat people the way you want to be treated; and I know it sounds simple but at the same time it is really, really powerful,” Norman said.
Although his rise to fame escalated amongst reports of racial profiling, police brutality, and continuous misconduct, his positive images of self-sacrifice and genuine community relations are ones that continue to shine light, in an often dark industry.
During the Dallas Momentum Conference, Officer Tommy Norman worked the crowd, paused for selfies, and greeted each guests with a firm handshake and a smile. While on stage, Norman echoed similar sentiments encouraging all that they can all be individual change agents for a better tomorrow.
“One person can make a difference.”
“Obviously there’s power in numbers but…I didn’t wait on any other officers,” Officer Norman stated passionately. “I didn’t wait on anybody else because I realized that the time is now and you can’t wait to make a difference tomorrow.”
While the simple things in life such as cheeseburgers (with onions), the occasional Chic-Fil-A meal, and sports make Norman smile; it’s operating in his calling that drives him daily as he encourages fellow officers to do the same.
As we looked to wrap our time with Officer Norman, there was just one last thing he anxiously wanted to show us. Pulling out his iPhone, he scanned fervently through his playlist to push play on John Legend’s “If You’re Out There.” As Legend crooned softly, Norman quietly sang along to the lyrics of his life:
“If you hear this message, wherever you stand; I’m calling every woman, calling every man. We’re the generation, we can’t afford to wait. The future started yesterday and we’re already too late.”
Inspired by the genuineness of his heart, we listened and asked if he now considers himself to be “a brand.”
“I don’t know,” Officer Tommy Norman chuckled. “I don’t really know what a brand is. I just know that I’m a police officer that cares; I’m a police officer that when I get out of my police car and my police boots hit the ground, I’m leading with my heart, and walking with love.”