Police officers are at their best when they’re out in the community getting to know their neighborhoods and the people who live in them. In Buffalo, New York two officers who are partners, Michael Norwood and Mo Badger have taken this principle a bit further. They’re engaging Buffalo neighborhoods in a unique way— by singing.
Unlikely Pair Clicked Immediately
When they were selected to work together, Norwood and Badger didn’t seem like the most likely two people to partner on their police force. Norwood is a former professional basketball player from Buffalo’s inner city who played around the world until he broke his foot. Badger was a professional gospel singer and the son of a church pastor. Norwood is 6.5-foot-tall while Badger is about a foot shorter. But they both wanted to serve youth and community. When they came together as partners on the Buffalo police force, things just worked.
The two started singing together as a joke in their briefing room and as they practiced, Badger helped Norwood become more comfortable with singing. The other members of their precinct encouraged their efforts. Gradually, over time, the two took their songs out of the station and into the streets. They were welcomed with open arms.
The Buffalo Community Responds
Norwood and Badger use singing to reach anyone who will listen, but especially enjoy connecting with youth and showing them a type of police officer who defies stereotypes and is more approachable. Since they’ve begun singing it is easier for people to see them as humans, not just a badge. This is no small feat. There has traditionally been a divide between the police force and neighborhoods where the police aren’t as trusted as they’d like to be. The partners may have found a way to shift the dynamic.
Community members love their singing and don’t hesitate to make requests. They’ve generally found that now that they’re singing, they seem to be breaking down barriers between them and community members and people have a different demeanor when they interact. They even received a song request from a man they were pulling over for a routine traffic stop. They had to request the man’s license before starting their serenade.
Pair Went Nationwide After They Were Discovered At A Restaurant
As they became known in the community for their voices, the pair began singing whether they were on-duty or not. When they were videotaped singing at a local restaurant, the video went viral. They wound up being covered by local and national media, even making an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Fans loved watching the cops, who laughingly danced onto Ellen’s stage set and launched into a version of their most loved song, the Temptations My Girl. The video had more than 650,000 views and live audiences cheered and clapped to the music while the pair smiled and sang.
Launching A Nonprofit To Connect Youth And Police Officers
Officers Norwood and Badger are looking to take their connections with the community a step further. In 2016 they and another officer created a nonprofit called COPSS (Children Overcoming Police Stereotypes Through Sports) that is focused on helping youth to connect with the officers in their community.
The organization is dedicated to connecting with kids through sports and mentoring programs. They want to be sure that kids have enjoyable experiences and get to connect to members of the police force that can become mentors and role models for them. They hope that by connecting with kids while they are young, they can make a lasting difference in both their lives and in how they view the police officers they meet. With this approach, they hope to build a better future for the kids and the whole community. We wish them the best of luck with this worthwhile goal!
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