Community policing: Four-year-old no longer afraid of police after encounter with officer

Four-year-old Christopher Lane told his mom Ashley he was scared of police officers. But after getting a chance to sit in Douglasville Police Officer Devaris Brunson’s patrol car and turn on the lights recently, Lane said he’s not afraid anymore. Ashley posted this picture of Christopher and Officer Brunson together on DPD’s Facebook page, where it garnered messages of support from the community.

A Douglasville mother and her son are teaching the community about the kindness of law enforcement officers after a shopping trip to Walmart recently.

Ashley Lane and her four-year-old son, Christopher, were on their way to the doctor’s office on Sept. 14 and were meeting Ashley’s husband at the Walmart on Thornton Road before heading that way.

The two were driving around the parking lot and saw a police vehicle. After seeing the vehicle, Lane’s son told her he feared policemen.

“He goes, ‘I’m just scared of police’ and I just asked him if he wanted to see the car,” Lane said. “He said, ‘yeah, I do.’ ”

She pulled up to the police car and asked Douglasville Police Officer Devaris Brunson if Christopher could see the vehicle. Her son started looking at the vehicle and Brunson let him sit in the vehicle and turn on the lights.

“My son left the police car and said, ‘Mama, I’m not scared of them anymore,” Lane wrote on her Facebook page on Sept. 14, with photos of the officer and Christopher in the officer’s vehicle attached to the post.

These photos were shared with the Douglasville Police Department and on the Facebook page of the Douglas County Sentinel. The newspaper’s social media post received 422 reactions, 70 comments and 17 shares over the next few weeks, with many of the comments in support of the police department and officers across the country.

“I was teaching him that they are not to be scared of, they are here to help,” Lane said.

Douglasville Police Department Maj. J.R. Davidson saw Lane’s Facebook post and said the department has been promoting community policing for 20 years. He said officers strive to be a part of the community they are serving.

“It’s good community relations and it’s important for people to be comfortable and confident in us with everything that we do,” Davidson said. “Our motto is ‘one with our community’ and it’s little instances like this that promote the people who live and work here.”

Douglasville Police Chief Gary Sparks echoed Davidson and the department’s motto. He said he wants his officers to

be open to the public. He said law enforcement do not want to hurt or harm residents and are trained

to serve and protect their cities.

“That’s what we try to instill in our officers,”

Sparks said. “Treat the community right and treat the people we serve respectably. We don’t want them to go out and ride around in a police car with the windows rolled up and don’t even get out of the car to say hello to someone.”

He added that, with these types of human interactions, the community can embrace their police department and the same will be done by the police.

“I tell my guys that we have to get back to the old way of policing where we would be walking the beat, out talking to people and shooting some basketball,” he said. “That’s what we need to get back, so that’s how we try to do it in Douglasville.”