Inspiration to become a police officer was always around a young Cody Thomas. “As soon as I could start making memories, I’ve always known I wanted to become a police officer,” said Thomas. That was at age four.
His dream was boosted by many family role models. His father, who wasn’t a police officer, and two uncles at the Houston Police Department set an example by actions that he wanted to follow.
Thomas recalls how his dad’s compassion for others left an enormous impression. “He would do anything under the sun to help somebody,” said Thomas. “He would give you his shirt, his shoes, anything off his back to help you, even if they were strangers.”
Upon graduation from Cypress Woods High School, Thomas entered the police force. He’s now a two-year veteran and works shifts with HPD and Westchase District Patrol.
Family Ties Inspire
Like his father, Thomas’ uncles reminded him to make a difference in the world every day. “They put me on steppingstones which lead to the path I took.” He recalls his uncles saying, “It’s a great, rewarding profession but you need to know what you are getting yourself into. You will see the best and the worst in people.” He thinks about that in every situation.
“Nine out of 10 times when people call a police officer is when they need the most help in life. They are at their lowest point. You need to be ready to respond to the individual and diffuse a situation before it gets worse.”
Good Samaritans Among Us
Since Thomas joined the District’s Patrol in June 2019, he’s witnessed good Samaritans who don’t hesitate to help others. Thomas approached a stalled vehicle on Westpark Tollway frontage road to offer the driver tow truck assistance. The driver insisted one not be called. Congestion started to build. Thomas put on his lights, stayed with the driver, carefully managing his anxiety. “I put myself in his shoes. His car was old and maybe he couldn’t afford a tow.” Out of nowhere, a random motorist arrives. He opens the car’s hood and determines the battery needs a charge. After the jump start, the stranded man drove away before congestion worsened.
In another instance, an idle vehicle was blocking traffic on Westheimer. As Thomas was directing traffic around the vehicle, another man came to the driver’s aid. They began pushing the car but struggled. Thomas then joined the two men. “We didn’t just get the car out of the way, we pushed it for what seemed like miles back to the owner’s apartment complex. It was quite a workout!”
Countering Media Perceptions with Community Presence
Thomas sees the media missing opportunities to share real stories about what officers do and experience. Despite this trend, he believes the best thing is for officers to be present in the community.
“Building connections in the community goes a long way,” said Thomas. When people view police officers as a resource it provides reassurance about their feelings toward safety and security. “I tell people to always be alert and have good situational awareness. Even if it’s just locking your car, the smallest things can help reduce criminal activity.”
Body cameras are a significant technology his uncles didn’t have. Officers also face a public with mobile camera phones. Even a simple act of kindness can become problematic. As Thomas gave bottled water to a homeless man, another man far away was filming it on his phone. “Aren’t you going to arrest him or beat him up,” yelled the man, intent on inciting a response. Despite the distraction, Thomas continued his focus on helping, which is what always guides his work.