Craig Hanaumi, a Bellevue, WA cop is skating his way into healthy community relationships. The 10-year veteran of the force visits an indoor skate park regularly, building trust with the young skaters and improving his skate-boarding abilities.
Hanaumi, who stopped skating nearly two decades ago, began skateboarding again after receiving a nuisance call about skaters filming tricks. Instead of simply telling the skaters to leave, Hanaumi chatted with them, asking what moves they were doing. He also tried riding one of their boards before politely escorting them off the property.
The skaters filmed the interaction and put it on YouTube. The video has generated positive comments about Hanaumi, who many call “the cool cop”.
The Bellevue Police Department is working to build relationships with the community, Hanaumi said. “Just being in the same space, and being comfortable – you know, no big deal, we’re all the same.”
After interacting with the skaters, Hanaumi began spending time at skate parks, where he met Akash Rishi, who works at a city-owned indoor Skate park.
Rishi said he was initially nervous to see a cop hanging out in the park, but jokingly said, “you know, if you want to give it a try, just let me know.”
Hanaumi was just there to watch, but Rishi gave him skateboarding tips, trying to convince the officer to give it a try.
After listening to Rishi’s tips and persuasions, Hanaumi jumped on a board, and went down a ramp.
“I was blown away. It was, like, the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” Rishi said.
As a Crossroads Community Officer, Hanaumi knows high community involvement can be costly for departments and dangerous for the officers.
“To put yourself in the position to build rapport, it’s not always the most tactical thing to do. And that’s the danger of what we do,” Hanaumi said.
However, Hanaumi has seen the approach pay off, after a young teen with gang-ties who he had befriended came forward with a tip that broke a cold case of a drive-by shooting.
“The reason why that happened was because of all the time that was spent before that trying to build a positive relationship,” Hanaumi said. “And I believe that if that hadn’t happened, then that person probably wouldn’t have been comfortable coming forward to provide any information.”