A police officer in South Hill, Va., became a local celebrity after a video of him playing with dolls on the sidewalk with a group of little girls went viral. The officer has now come to be known as a mentor to neighborhood kids, who think of him as a superhero.
“He’s awesome. That’s the only word you can really use to describe C.B.,” said area mom Iesha Roper-Boswell about Cpl. C.B. Fleming, a 15-year veteran of the South Hill Police Department, according to Richmond, Va., news station WTVR.
Roper-Boswell said Fleming and the children first became acquainted when emergency crews responded to a gas leak at her apartment complex. Once the leak was declared not a threat, and Fleming realized everyone was safe, he started talking with the residents of the complex as he often does. “I was telling him that my daughter, my niece and some of the other children here were afraid of cops,” Roper-Boswell told WTVR.
So when Fleming spotted the kids playing outside — and after getting their parents’ permission — he went over to them, got down on the ground and started playing too. First he joined a group of boys who were coloring, and then with the girls who were playing with dolls. Surprised by the sight of the 42-year-old officer making himself comfortable on his belly with his legs crossed like a kid, she grabbed her phone and started recording a video — which happened to take place on Valentine’s Day.
But it was all in a day’s work for Fleming, who told Yahoo Lifestyle, “I’m a dad of three girls. I’ve gotten toes painted, exfoliated with mud masks, danced in princess dresses with makeup, tea parties, etc. Doll babies are like second nature to me. So me and the girls were having a blast.”
The little boys, he said, reminded him of his 4-year-old son, a SpongeBob SquarePants fan. “When I noticed the young men coloring pages filled with those particular characters I just asked if I could join in because my son was in love with these characters,” he said. “They allowed me to choose one to fill in the color, and while we did that we ended up singing the theme song together. It was the best part of my day, hands down. All of these children were so polite and kind and compassionate with me and with each other. They shared their toys, their crayons, their laughs with me.”
But the moment wasn’t just a one-shot deal for the officer. Fleming has been going above and beyond to be a mentor and friend to the kids in the community, not only encouraging them to consider him someone assigned to protect them but also engaging them in conversation about games, activities and their favorite cartoon characters (his is Moana). Fleming even has a secret talent — he can do a cartwheel almost as well as the local girls.
“It’s just amazing, the bond that he has with the children, especially around here,” said Roper-Boswell. “It’s very important to see the connection he has.”
In fact, Roper-Boswell said the children are so enamored of Fleming that they swarm him when they see him. She says a role model like that in the form of a police officer is just what they need. “We locally call him ‘the South Hill Batman,'” she told WTVR.
Fleming, a father of four biological children and two foster children, makes it a priority to represent the police force with integrity and generosity — and he said takes his vow to protect and serve very seriously. He tells the children to remember that he’s always around, not just for the “bad stuff” but for the “good stuff” too.
“Police are mostly a necessary evil,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle. “We encounter people at their worst of times. I want to show that we can also be there in some of the best of times as well. Let me be your big brother, your uncle, your mentor, your family. Whatever role I need to take on in any moment. I want to show the young ones that there are people out in the world that truly care about them and their families and are compassionate and honestly just want the very best for everyone. Pay it forward. Spread the love. Whatever one wants to call these things it’s simple. Just be good.”
Residents of the community are grateful for Fleming’s generous attitude. “The town of South Hill is so lucky to have you,” one person commented on Roper-Boswell’s Facebook post. “I used to LIVE for his bright spirit to walk into McDonald’s and hang out for a while. Great guy!” wrote another community member.
But Fleming has been humble in the face of all the attention he’s received since the video went viral. “Y’all give me more credit than I deserve, but I do appreciate the love,” he replied to the well-wishers. “Plus who doesn’t like playing and coloring with kids?!? It’s probably my favorite thing to do. They were so kind to me, and I’m so thankful they allowed me to play with them today.”
Though he takes the praise in stride, Fleming does realize the gravity of his actions. “For me to be a catalyst for young people, regardless of race, color, creed, religion,” Fleming said. “I feel that I could be a positive change.”
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