From there a friendship was born.
It happened in August when Martin was called to speak Dashawn Reddick, 15, and Antonio Crowder, 16.
Martin met the youth during a call in which they were suspected of illegal activity at a bus stop.
“From there we struck up a conversation,” Martin said today before he and the teens embarked on the Christmas for Kids shopping spree at Walmart. “We actually had the parents come to the bus stop. We spoke with the parents. Instead of running them through the system, we started with community service.”
The teens have not let Martin down and have been active participants in several endeavors, including today’s event.
Those activities have included the city’s opioid seminar in which they attended and did an essay on the meeting. They participated in Project Lift, cooking food and helping the children. They came to an event which Martin couldn’t attend.
“With them being young men, if you lend a helping hand, it makes a difference in their life.”
For Crowder the relationship has been meaningful. “We’ve built up a friendship instead of being thrown under the bus.”
Reddick says he has had past experiences with police which weren’t positive. “For him to come up and be friendly, it changed my opinion.”
Said Crowder: “My perception of police, it’s changed.”
Martin calls their schools to check up on their progress. “They haven’t faltered. They’re both doing well in school.”
It’s been tough for Martin to keep up with the teens after losing two parents this year and school going on, but he makes the effort. He plans to get them in on an early morning basketball games to continue mentoring them. “I want to see if they’ve got any skills on the court.”
For Martin, the experience has shown him another side of policing. “I learned an alternate way to do some things. I looked at it outside the box. I saw it as an opportunity to reach out to the community.”
Both Crowder and Reddick aren’t ashamed to be seen talking to a cop. “I can talk to him in front of a whole crowd of my peers,” Crowder said.
Said Reddick: “I feel the same way. At least now I know with him we’re like equals.”
Martin’s efforts have been featured on the Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina website.
Chief Chuck Hasty appreciates Martin’s efforts. “It’s a great program, trying to resolve issues without going through the court system.”
Martin said Hasty has encouraged this interaction to have better relations with the community. “His philosophy is we’re here to protect and serve but at the end of the day I’m no better than anybody else I’m out there policing. We’re all human beings.”