Three-year-old Aden had a simple request while at Burger King in Carrollton. He wanted to say hello to a police officer who was on his lunch break at a nearby table.
His great-grandfather, Curtis Parham, happily took him over, saying it was a wonderful way for the impressionable little boy to see that there can be positive interactions with police officers despite recent tragedies that have made national headlines. The conversation led to a handshake, a pledge that they were henceforth buddies, and a promise that if he ever needed help from police, they were there for him.
That’s when Parham made a request of his own and asked the Carrollton city police officer to take a photo with Aden so that he could remember the exchange as a positive one.
“I just wanted to show him that in spite of what is being reported on the news, there are many police officers who are good people,” Parham said. “I didn’t know what I had I when I looked at that picture and I said to myself, good gracious what a good message that was for this officer to stop eating and interact with him. He talked to him for a minute and they kicked it off and he was especially nice to him. He really took a moment to make a friend with my grandson and then he (Aden) said cops aren’t bad.”
Parham never imagined how significant the photo was until he showed it to Aden’s father, Andricus.
“I showed his dad and he said, ‘I know that officer -- he arrested me once’ and I said ‘Well, because of that great interaction maybe now he won’t have to arrest your son’,” said Parham. “Of all the people in the world, Aden met the very officer who arrested his own father. It just blew my mind.”
Parham made it his mission to find out who the officer was and took a framed photo to the Carrollton Police Department, where he asked Chief Joel Richards to consider displaying it somewhere to show young people that they do not have to take the same path as their parents or people they know.
“The name Officer Chad Cook is one that we will remember,” said Parham. “Some of these kids don’t realize that when you go out and get a record it hurts you for the rest of your life. I want to share the picture because I think if a child has a positive interaction with one police officer, and he decides he wants to stay on a positive, even if that is one child you save, that’s a plus right there. So often, kids get the impression of killer cops and that wasn’t what I thought growing up. These officers, they have families and they have kids and they are people too. Officer Cook showed that he was just a regular guy when he stopped eating his meal to take a picture with Aden.”
Parham is retired from the military. He once drove a school bus and worked with Southwire and now he spends a lot of time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also drives the church bus to pick up 15 children in the area. He said that he is thinking of ways to now get more officers to interact with the children he knows so that they can begin the dialogue and hopefully the youngsters will stay “on the straight and narrow”.
“Aden is only 3 and half but he knows ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ he is very smart and talented and as long as I can help him keep his brain in the right place, I am sure he will go far,” said Parham. “His daddy is very smart too, even though he made some mistakes, so I am hopeful that things will turn around fully for him. So many kids I know have used their brain for detriment and they need reasons to stay on track. I think because of this experience, Aden will see that police will do what needs to be done when you do wrong, but for the most part they are just people too. Kids need to know that we have got some good cops and we sometimes need to tell them they are doing a good job and feel like we can go to them when we are in a jam. That’s what Officer Chad Cook said police are there for -- to be there when you need them to help you.”