Viral photo shows Beckley Police officer consoling 8-year-old over worries of unrest

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Following the killing of George Floyd, concerns over what lies ahead between communities and their law enforcement continue to grow, even in the minds of children. 8-year-old Ross Dumas is no exception.

“All I thought about was if this officer’s going to come up to me and arrest me for no reason, or if he’s going to talk to me,” Dumas said.

His mother, Kristi, does everything in her power to protect him. But in uncertain times when some answers to difficult questions may be challenging, she wanted help from someone whose sworn duty is to protect and serve.

“[Ross] was very afraid and concerned about police and the ways policing in general are happening across the country,” Kristi said. “[The officer] really was the epitome of protecting and serving that day.”

During the New River Riders event on Saturday, September 12, 2020, Kristi took a picture of her son bonding with Beckley Sgt. David Bailey and getting the closure he needed — a moment capturing, what she truly believed, is community policing.

“That connection between boy and officer is really exemplifying all of the things that need to be healed in our community,” Kristi said.

“He talked to me about he wasn’t a bad officer,” Ross said. “I could come up to the station and he could give me a tour.”

Sgt. Bailey surpassed two decades on the force this past year. His partner of 15 years, Capt. Chuck Ragland, was not surprised with the good deed of his fellow officer, given the example he continues to lead.

“There is not a mean bone in his body. He is exactly what you want a police officer to be,” Ragland said. “We understand the fears that come with some of the individuals out there. We can break down that barrier and have a talk and hopefully get past those fears.”

For Kristi, the snapshot was a symbol of solidarity.

“With that mutual respect and exchange between the police and a resident, I think that is absolutely the step in the direction that not just Beckley, but this entire country, should be moving in,” Kristi said.

While it is not in their mission statement, Capt. Ragland said community policing is high on the department’s list of priorities.

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