A Facebook video of a Bennettsville, South Carolina, police officer is going viral -- but maybe not for the reason many would expect.
In the video, which had more than 4 million views as of Thursday afternoon, police officer C.J. Mullinax can be seen playing football with kids on a field in a Bennettsville Housing Authority development area.
Mullinax told ABC News today this is the kind of community interaction the chief preaches to the department every day, and he hopes the video will show the public not all cops are bad, while encouraging other police departments in strained relationships with their communities to follow suit.
"I believe you can do so much more chasing a kid while holding a basketball or football than chasing a kid while holding a baton or gun," Bennettsville Police Department Police Chief Larry McNeil told ABC News today. "I always tell my guys they can do more with what's between their ears -- their brain -- than the holster on their side."
McNeil added he makes it mandatory for his cops to always go on walks in the town a few times a week and just spend time and catch up with the community. They also hold events such as neighborhood nights out, especially in housing development areas, where they'll catch up and make hot dogs with adults and give out freebies to kids, he said.
Mullinax said he often goes over to areas with the worst crime to play basketball with kids there or talk to the adults and see how they're doing.
"That's how you gain the community's trust," he said. "Not all cops are bad, but because of what some bad cops have done, we need to earn back respect from the community."
Mullinax, who's a traffic patrol officer, said he also got a call today from a man thanking him for a giving him a ticket because he came out of the incident a better man.
"Whenever I have interactions with someone, despite what they've done, I'm going to treat them how I would want to be treated," Mullinax said. "We're all human, we all make mistakes, but at the same time, it's my responsibility as cop to help fix anything wrong, and I want to do that in the most respectful way possible."
Mullinax added that his approach to policing is that he wakes up every day looking to make a difference.
"My uncle, who policed for 35 years, said everyone’s looking for a difference, but if you don’t see, it you have to be the difference," he said. "So I wake up, look at myself in the mirror and remind myself that I have to be that difference for people today."
Lorenzo Adams, the Bennettsville man who recorded the video, told ABC News today he was able to talk to Mullinax Wednesday night and thank him over the phone.
"These days, there's so much negativity out there, and I just wanted to record it so Bennettsville could see we have good police officers here no matter what might be happening elsewhere," Adams said. "[Mullinax] thanked me for taking it, but really, he's the hero to thank -- in addition to all the people who saw the same thing I saw and helped the video go viral."