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Playing police

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The job of a police officer isn’t an easy one. At times facing criticism, the profession can be stressful as well as life-threatening.

 However, one 4-year-old Decatur boy helped lighten the mood of a local precinct by bringing smiles to officers at the Decatur Police Department.

 Oliver Knowles, known by the Decatur Police Department as “future officer Oliver,” recently met with officers and Decatur Police Chief Mike Booker. Oliver has his own custom police uniform, complete with his name “officer Oliver” stitched on the front.

 

 What started out as a nice gesture has turned to love and admiration for Oliver, said a Decatur Police spokesperson.

 “I was very excited to have him come. I was out on medical [leave] when he came by the first time and I really wanted to see him this time,” said Booker, who met Oliver on March 17. “He’s getting to know the officers as people and what the job of a police officer is all about.”

 It all started on social media during the department’s recruitment process. In January, the department posted on its Facebook page asking if anyone was interested in joining the Decatur Police Department. Oliver’s mother Jill Knowles responded with a picture of her son in his custom uniform riding a toy police motorcycle with the message “I know someone who would love to join the force, but there’s one tiny problem-he’s 4. But keep him in mind for one day. He’d love to come to the station and visit, if you guys allow that sort of thing.”

 Not only did the department “allow that sort of thing,” but the Decatur Police Department welcomed Oliver and he met with Sgt. Nembheard and Officer Alexander and toured the department. Since his initial meeting, Oliver has become somewhat of a mascot for Decatur Police.

 “This can enhance our relationship between [community] and police. I’m glad that he came and I’m glad that we could do this for him,” Booker said.

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 Booker said it was refreshing to see someone so young becoming so receptive toward police officers. Jill Knowles said her son wasn’t always so unabashed when it came to uniformed officers.

 “He showed some interest in police officers, but he was also a little skittish around them. I just wanted him to not be afraid and hopefully encourage him to feel comfortable,” Jill Knowles said. “If there was ever an emergency I would want him to seek out a police officer and not be afraid.”

 Oliver has received several gifts from the Decatur Police Department including a necklace, pencils and pens, safety manuals and a book bag. His mother said she’s been overwhelmed by the department’s response. The Knowles family moved to Decatur in August 2016 and they say they enjoy the family environment and atmosphere.

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