When Good Intentions Just Aren’t Enough: Prankster Cops Pull People Over To Hand Out Ice Cream Cones
Every time there are a string of incidents of police brutality that grab the attention of mainstream media, it isn’t long before we discover social media images that attempt to combat that narrative. A couple of years ago, after the killing of Mike Brown and the strangulation of Eric Garner, there was the image of the little, Black boy, with tears in his eyes, hugging an officer. Videos surfaced of officers doing the nae-nae surrounded by a group of Black kids.
And this year, during this very brutal Summer 16, Tommy Norman emerged as the good cop. I actually believe Norman and his emphasis on community policing and getting to know those in the neighborhood he patrols, is good work. Norman is not the only one who’s being highlighted. This time officer Brian Warner, in a video posted to his partner’s Facebook page, is using pranks to improve the image of police, restore a little faith in humanity or whatever…I’m not exactly sure.
Here’s what happened:
In a one minute video, Warner, a Halifax, Virginia police officer, pulls over a Black, Virginia woman.
He approaches the car and asks:
“Were you familiar with why I pulled you over today?”
She answers, “No. I mean, no sir.”
Warner continues, “Are you familiar with vehicle code 18.104.22.168?”
When she says no, he drops the act and reveals the joke.
“It’s actually against the law to drive on a hot day without an ice cream cone.”
Then he hands her and the man in her passenger seat an ice cream cone. The woman and her passenger immediately breathe a sigh of relief and start laughing. The man sitting next to her says “Hell yeah!” as the officer passes him his ice cream cone. Warner wishes her a good day. She returns the sentiment and the video ends there.
According to the New York Post, this woman in the viral video was one of a dozen drivers pulled over by these two officers last week.
The laughs and smiles from the driver and her passenger were genuine. From the looks of things, it seems like they appreciated the gesture. Perhaps it did restore their faith in humanity or reaffirm the fact that all police officers aren’t bad.
The video has been shared over 28,000 times and has been viewed over 4.2 million times. As you may imagine, many of the comments are celebrating the act.
“What a great laugh!”
What fun. Way to show how law enforcement officers are caring people. You rock.
“This is absolutely the very best!! Thank you Law Enforcement Officers for caring, serving and protecting. God speed, bless you and be safe out there. Thank you always for being there for all of us.”
Personally, that’s not what I took from the video.
It was a joke to the officer but it was a relief to the Black folk driving. I don’t think police officers, good or bad, really understand the fear Black people experience when we’re pulled over by the police. It is an anxious feeling. Your heart races, your palms and other body parts sweat as you wonder if this particular interaction with law enforcement will be your last interaction with anyone. Many of us felt like this even before the age of cell phones where these instances of police brutality were filmed and broadcast all over social media. And now that we’re watching people who look like us die at the hands of police officers just about every week, that fear and awareness is heightened. That fear is more palpable. The other day I had to ask two, Black police officers who patrol my neighborhood in the evening a question and I was terrified approaching their car. It was an emergency but I didn’t know how fast I should walk. I didn’t know how close I should be to the car. How I should hold my hands as I approached. Everything went fine. They were kind and did what they could. Still, you just never know what will happen when you have to deal with the people who are supposed to protect and serve.
The thought of being pulled over by a police officer while I’m driving, like Sandra Bland, and having to reach for my identification, like Philando Castile, is literally petrifying. And honestly, I don’t think an ice cream cone for my troubles would have been worth the fear.
What I would love to see police officers do, I don’t know if they could record. I would love to see them challenge the practices and protocol that have placed us in this predicament in the first place. I would love to see an officer speak out against the quota system that essentially forces officers to harass people in order to collect more money for the city. (There was a group of minority officers in New York City who did just that.) I would love to see police officers fighting for more testing and training before officers are allowed to hit the streets, guns on their hips. And I would love to see and hear police officers speak out against the brutality that exists, throughout the police departments in many parts of this country. I’d take that over an ice cream cone on the hottest of days.