By reaching out to a group of children found on their knees begging for their lives as he drove by, a police officer left a profound impression that will last for years to come (video below).
When Memphis Police Department (MPD) Officer Rico Donald drove past some children playing in their yard in Whitehaven, Tennessee, on April 7, they kneed to the ground and placed their hands over their hands, as if they were begging for their lives and about to be arrested.
Although Donald said it’s common for children to act this way when he’s in uniform, he wanted to explain that police are around to help them and that they shouldn’t be afraid.
"If they keep that scared mentality when they're young, as they get older it's going to be, 'Ok, I'm not scared, but I don't like the police any more,'" he explained to WREG News.
Along with his partner, he pulled over to talk to the children and explain that policemen are around to protect them.
"I was just trying to assure them, you don't have to be scared of us, we're your friends," Donald told WATN News. "No matter what you might see, you can depend on us."
Donald added that he tries to address the stigma against police officers whenever the opportunity arises.
"I think we all know about what's going on in society with police and especially the black community," Donald explained to WREG News.
After explaining to the children that policemen are meant to protect them, he talked with the children to get to know them a little better.
"The youngest one wanted to be a police officer," Donald said of the children. "The second one wanted to do sports, and the young lady, she wanted to be a teacher."
Donald then decided to play football with the children, cementing the fact that he was not someone to be feared.
"It made them feel so good," Jamie Wilson, the mother of the kids, told WATN News. "It made them feel great that he stopped and talked to them."
Rev. Keith Norman, NAACP President, was also grateful Donald took the time to speak with the children.
"Had he not stopped, those kids would have continued to believe that the police are bad," Norman told WREG News.
"Kids cry when the police officers come because they're scared -- it's like we replaced the boogeyman," Donald told WATN News. "I need you to feel that if you need me, if no one else comes, I'm going to come. I want them to feel comfortable."