SANDY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Officer Graham Tinius recently went above and beyond the call of duty when he allowed a local skateboarder to go above and beyond HIM.
Officer Tinius is the Parks Officer for the Sandy Police Department so Lone Peak Skatepark is part of his beat. It was there where he saw 23-year-old Ty Hadley doing kickflips and approached him with a question.
“‘Hey you think you can do a kickflip over me?’,” Hadley recalled the officer saying. “And I was like ‘Maybe? I don’t know.'”
One way to find out. Officer Tinius laid down and held his breath. What was Hadley thinking?
“Just ‘Don’t stomp this cop’s head in’ was what I was thinkin’ mostly,” Hadley said with a laugh. “I just really didn’t want to hit him. I was like ‘hopefully we get over the top and make sure it’s clean and we’ll have a cool clip happen’.”
Hadley cleared the veteran officer with room to spare. The Sandy PD posted the video on Twitter with the caption “Officer Tinius connecting with our community”.
“Sometimes there’s like a wall or a pedestal or something between people in uniform and civilians,” Officer Tinius told Behind the Badge. “I think breaking that down can establish lines of communication. I think by showing a little bit of vulnerability I was able to establish their trust.”
Officer Tinius calls it “preemptive policing” and says it makes his job easier.
“Connecting with the kids ahead of time, making myself approachable, making myself a little bit more human, not having any intimidation of coming to talk to me,” he said. “Then when the time comes when an incident does come here and I need to come to talk to people…I’ll have willing witnesses that will come out and actually speak to me.”
Officer Tinius is a pretty decent skateboarder himself and while he refused to ride for us on camera, he did allow Hadley to recreate his trick.
“If you land on me I’m going to be really disappointed,” he said before the repeat attempt. “I just wanted to let you know that.”
Not just disappointed, he would have been crushed, but Hadley pulled it off again, another landing that was one small leap for Ty but a giant step for police-community relations in this difficult time.
“It’s important to recognize that everybody’s got similarities. I think we can all relate to each other in one way or another,” Hadley said. “It’s hard to group people together like that and say that all cops are bad or I mean like black people are rioting and doing these things. I think it’s really important to find those similarities…It boils down to being a good person. If you treat someone with respect you’re going to get it back.”
So far Officer Tinius has survived times as a human speed bump without a single bruise or scratch and says he’ll continue to lay down…as well as lay down the law.
“Then the question is: do we just keep doing a more challenging trick until somebody does land on me?” he asked.
Minutes later a scooter rider named Clayton Taft did a backflip over the officer.
Officer Tinius says that after a few weeks of practicing on his old board he might just try to flip the script and attempt a kickflip of his own…over Ty. Now that would really be something to see.