By Christine Bryant
As a SWAT officer with the Reynoldsburg Division of Police, Rob Campbell was doing his job when he executed a narcotics search warrant in the Century City Apartments. As a father, he saw a child who had just been through a traumatic experience in need of reassurance.
Earlier this year, after entering a home in the Century City Apartments near the intersection of Brice Road and East Livingston Avenue, Reynoldsburg SWAT team members encountered a toddler who was shaken by the presence of the police in the apartment.
Still in his tactical gear, Campbell sat and interacted with the child to calm her and make her feel comfortable around the police.
“If my child had just been through something traumatic and was upset, I would hope someone would take the time to sit and reassure him that he was safe and everything would be alright,” Campbell said. “As an officer, especially a SWAT officer, our uniform and presence can be quite intimidating to children.”
What Campbell didn’t know at the time was one of the other team members was filming the interaction, and the scene was later posted to the department’s Facebook page. Within about two weeks, the video went viral across the world and received positive feedback for Campbell’s efforts and community outreach.
The video, even shown on CNN, placed Reynoldsburg on the map, and last month, Campbell was recognized as Crimestoppers Officer of the Year.
“It’s important to note that I have observed such compassion from all of the members of our SWAT team and most of the officers I have worked with,” he said.
While not the first time he had encountered a distraught child while serving as an officer, Campbell said he was able to calm this young child by sitting with her on the couch and connecting with her by asking her questions about school and family.
“She quickly came out of her shell and was more than happy to talk, sing and play games,” he said.
Campbell has been with the Reynoldsburg Division of Police for about seven years. As an officer, he enjoys the variety of experiences and meeting people from all walks of life, but admits the most challenging aspect of being an officer right now is the negative perception a portion of society has of the police, he said.
He hopes the young child he helped that day was left with a positive experience of the police, despite the traumatic nature of the incident.
“The fact that the public has had the opportunity to view the story and share their positive thoughts toward police is simply a bonus,” Campbell said.