Viewpoint: On patrol with SPD Officer Tubbs
BY HALEY JONES
Given the emphasis placed on crime and public safety in this fall’s Statesville elections, I thought it would be interesting to ride with a Statesville police officer.
After corresponding with Police Chief Joe Barone, I was assigned to ride with Officer Daniel Tubbs, whom the chief assured me is “one of SPD’s finest.”
In the days after the ride-along, I was asked by many about my adventure. My friends wanted to hear about the crimes and arrests I had witnessed. Many were disappointed when I reported that I witnessed no crimes or arrests during my ride-along.
What I witnessed was much more important: I saw how our officers are engaging with the community.
Approaching his ninth anniversary as a police officer, Officer Tubbs is no novice to law enforcement. After high school, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years before returning to civilian life. He then earned two degrees in criminal justice.
Tubbs has been with the SPD for almost three years, serving in the Community Oriented Policing Service. He is also a housing officer, and training officer.
He explained that he has always enjoyed working in law enforcement, a profession likens to the service industry. He attends many community events and enjoys engaging with city residents.
Our ride-a-long began with an unscheduled stop at a housing development to check for a specific vehicle. After that, we headed out on Officer Tubbs’ usual route.
“I like to talk to people,” Tubbs said, explaining that he prefers walking the streets to driving through neighborhoods in his patrol car. “A lot of our communities want a relationship with their officers. They want to see someone they know,” he said.
After a short stop at Power Cross Ministries, we headed over to Fifth Street Ministries. That’s where Officer Tubbs found his natural rhythm.
We immediately walked over to the picnic tables outside the shelter, where several residents were socializing. Tubbs sat down in between two ladies, both of whom rejoiced at seeing him. One woman embraced him with a hug.
Brenda explained that she had been at the Fifth Street shelter for a year. This is her second time at the shelter, the first being in 2014. She ended up in the shelter when depression set in after the holidays. During her stay, she has resumed more responsibility by working at the front desk. The more she takes on, the more confident she feels, Brenda said.
She also explained what an impact it has for Officer Tubbs to stop by and speak to her and the other residents.
“We love him,” Brenda said. “He comes and talks to us, and he is great with the kids. They gravitate towards him.”
By necessity, he keeps at least a 100 “Junior Statesville Police Department” badge stickers on his person at all times.
Officer Tubbs also spoke of the influence the visits have on him. He spoke of a young resident he has befriended. Dropped off at the shelter, the 17-year-old enrolled in school and got a job at the Bojangle’s near the Wal-Mart area. Between school and work, this boy bikes and walks to his destination.
“His work ethic is incredible,” Tubbs said, explaining the resident’s interest in the military.
While on the ride-a-long, we saw the young man returning from work – over a three-mile long trek.
Upon leaving the shelter, a male resident approached Officer Tubbs, thanking him. Tubbs said he had arrested the man only a few days before.
“It is about building that relationship,” Officer Tubbs said.
We then headed to Pressly Alternative School to meet Officer Carina Soto, who was Tubbs’ partner until she became a School Resource Officer (SRO). Tubbs also interacts frequently with students at Statesville Middle and Statesville High schools.
Once arriving at Pressly, we found Officer Soto, who had been called away from Statesville Middle to assist Pressley SRO Officer Devin Schenz with a situation.
Even while walking away from that situation, Soto spoke of how she had tried to relate to one of the children, complimenting him on his socks.
Officer Soto highlighted the importance of remaining positive as a police officer – especially around children.
“I don’t ever remember seeing my SRO,” Soto recalls. “I’m hoping to provide a positive influence on students while they are young. This way, they will make the choice to trust and speak to officers when they are older.”
Soto has plans of starting a youth club at Statesville Middle, in an attempt to build trust between the city’s youth and law enforcement.
Officer Schenz also involves himself, tutoring the students at Pressly Alternative School in math. He also enjoys hanging out with the elementary school kids because “they do the fun stuff.”
“Kids remember you. You meet them and interact with them and then if you see them on a call, they will remember you,” Tubbs explained. “It builds a relationship and they tend to talk to you.”
We then headed to the South Side. On the way, Officer Tubbs waved at every resident who looked his way. He pointed to a house where a resident known as “Little Mama” usually sits on her porch and waves to passers-by.
We drove past a basketball goal as he looked at the time on the dash of his car, noting that the kids were not quite out of school. Tubbs often meets neighborhood children for a game of basketball at the court.
We made a stop at the Transition House for homeless veterans, where Tubbs sat side-by-side in a rocking chair on the front porch with a resident, asking how his day was, and the status of the other residents. We stopped at another resident’s home, where a few people were hanging out on the porch.
Officer Tubbs walked right up to a lady named Katrina and asked her how she was.
She commented on how it was almost a year to the date since she had met the officer.
“I love this man,” said Katrina. “He saved my life.”
Katrina explained that almost a year ago she had decided to leave an abusive relationship. She returned one night to collect her stuff, and her partner was there waiting for her. She was severely beaten.
Officer Tubbs and Officer Soto arrived and took the man into custody. He is now in prison for up to 10 years.
“I’m alive,” Katrina said, explaining that during the attack all she could think about was her three young boys. “I still think about it from time to time, but I’m living after that happened.”
Tubbs regularly stops by Katrina’s house to check on her.
While in the neighborhood, Officer Tubbs walked the streets, speaking to anyone on their porch. One person he spoke to was an elderly woman who called herself the “Mayor of Fifth Street.”
She explained her watch over her neighborhood and those who do wrong. When asked about a neighborhood watch, she replied that she was the neighborhood watch.
Officer Tubbs made it a point to speak with the woman and engage with her. Her liveliness, protection and pride in her neighborhood really reflected the initiative that residents take in their community. Tubbs applauded it.
With her engagement in the community, Officer Tubbs asked her and another lady who was visiting if they would be interested in a neighborhood clean-up initiative – an event that Tubbs was organizing. He started organizing events such as this after he saw an elderly woman in Caldwell Park, with nothing but a grocery bag, picking up trash. He stopped to help her and after realizing the immensity of the trash, he called for help. With the combined efforts of five officers and some neighbors, the group cleaned up the litter.
Officer Tubbs truly demonstrates what many of our officers do on a daily basis. His ability and willingness to engage and interact with the community creates relationships with our citizens. He understands that serving and protecting requires having mutual respect and trust with those in the community.
I’m glad the city police department has filled all of the open positions in the patrol division. That will help reduce crime, especially if the new officers learn to invest in the community the way Officer Tubbs has.
Haley Jones is a writer for SVLfreenews.com.