Salute the Badge: TPD officer bridges gap with kids through backyard football

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A game of two-hand touch, backyard football in a lot off 27th and Indiana was made extra special when a nearby Officer Thoman Johnson caught notice of the game during a break in his day.

"I waved at the kids, I saw them playing, after I handled phone calls, I said, 'Well, they're playing football, I'll join in,’” Johnson said.

A passerby took notice and captured the game on their cell phone camera.

“I got a touchdown, but I got two-hand touched, I got stopped a couple times, too,” Johnson laughed.

He says the moment was, of course, more than just a game.

"All the kids were smiling, laughing, they were having a good time,” Johnson said.

“Some of them asked me about becoming a police officer themselves, or doing ride-alongs, and I pointed them towards the Explore program we have here. So if I can kind of bridge that gap a little bit where they might not have even known of those type of things, then I think it's a win."

Officer Johnson joined TPD in April 2018. Since then, he's taken pride treating people with respect and being there when they need him.

"Sometimes it’s their worst moment in their life, and you're kind of there to help steer them in the right direction and make it a little bit easier,” he said.

Sometimes, though, those moments are a little more fun — and start with throwing around the pigskin.

"I like doing those type of things, just getting in there with no pretenses or anything like that. It's very important for people to have positive examples to look up to. Unfortunately especially as a young kid, you don't get a chance to control your environment that much, so if I can be that person for somebody, it always means a lot."