JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) – Jacksonville K-9 Officer Johnny Hicks may look like any other police officer on the outside, but spend a few minutes with him and you will learn he is a man that holds a special place in many people’s hearts.
To some in Jacksonville, he is more than just a man in a blue uniform.
“He’s like one of our family members. Our uncle,” Maklya Thomasson said.
Every time Hicks pulls up around the corner, he is always greeted by a lot of smiles.
"Seeing the kids run to my patrol car, it's the best feeling in the world,” Hicks said. “They've taught me even though I am a police officer, I can be their friend."
Hicks began at the Jacksonville Police Department in 2010 and has made community policing one of his biggest efforts.
"It only takes minutes a day, to get out, to change a life, to change a perspective," Hicks said.
Hicks is also constantly updating his Facebook and Instagram pages with photos and videos of his everyday interactions with members in the community. His social media accounts are flooded with positive moments from his day.
“He's got a lot of people he visits regularly every day, and he spends time with these people every day,” Jacksonville Lieutenant Jason Garcia said. “He does a lot of stuff on his off time too."
Those in the community said Hicks is always willing to go the extra mile for anybody and will offering a helping hand whenever someone needs it.
"When I was on life support last year, he came by and would always check on us. He's come by and gave the kids snacks and treats and would give the kids encouraging words," Debbie McClain said. “We love officer Hicks.”
Hicks said he hopes other officers around the country will also utilize community policing and take the time to get to know people on a first name basis.
"Make sure there's a heartbeat behind your badge, not an ego,” he said. "It's not just me in Jacksonville that does it. There’s more of our officers that get out and strive to make differences every day and I love seeing that."
There are 80 sworn officers in the Jacksonville Police Department and Hicks said most of them are also committed to community policing. He said he learned a lot about his efforts through North Little Rock Police Officer and good friend Tommy Norman. You can follow Johnny Hicks and his daily posts on Instagram here.