Cpl. Atkinson helped a homeless woman. (Courtesy of Prince George’s County Police Department)
At a time when police officers are scrutinized for their wrongdoings, according to a 2014 Annual Report from the Citizen Complaint Oversight Panel, Cpl. Che’ Atkinson is one police officer that is above the fray.
The eight-year veteran is a patrol officer in the Prince Georges County Police Department. Atkinson works ten-hour rotational shifts in the Riverdale, Langley Park, and New Carrollton areas. He believes respecting citizens is paramount.
“When we go out in the street with any encounter or citizen, we make the citizen feel as though they are important; because they are important,” said Atkinson. “We treat the people the way you want to be treated, I believe that’s what we do.”
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Atkinson grew up in the Hill district; a predominately Black area where crime and poverty was commonplace. “I wanted to become a police officer because growing up I always saw a lot of bad things,” he said. “To me it’s just a matter of doing the right thing. There’s right, there’s wrong, so I figured the best way to help people was to go into law enforcement.”
Helping those in need has made Atkinson a favorite on social media, resulting in more than 17,000 likes and 4,000 shares for an August post on the police department’s Facebook page of the officer helping a homeless woman and her child involved in a domestic dispute.
Atkinson said helping the woman and her one-year old daughter were his claim to fame. The woman , who had no place to go ended up at the Hyattsville Police Station. He has been interviewed by Washington, D.C. Fox 5 and ABC News.
Atkinson initially called places to help the woman but eventually took control of the situation. “I had extra money,” he said. “It was just for one night, what would one night hurt?”
The extra cash provided a hotel stay and food. Atkinson provided transportation, a car seat for the toddler, and a social worker was later contacted. “I’m very appreciative of all of the attention but for me it was not a big deal, because of the way I was trained and saw when I was coming up,” Atkinson continued, insisting that he is not the only officer that provides residents with help. “I’ve seen other police the same thing.”
Also, Atkinson was District One’s Police Officer of the Month in December 2013. He apprehended a shooting suspect during a traffic stop. The suspect was trying to flee the scene in a taxicab.
The married father of two believes police officers wear a lot of hats. “We are force protecters for violence and stuff like that, but we also deal with people’s problems every day,” Atkinson said. “When I go out and make contact with somebody if they’re hostile or even uncooperative, I always come out with professionalism.”
Aktinson said, “One ritual that I do in my car is say a prayer . . . I ask for myself to make good sound decisions, not only for myself, for my colleagues, and to have a safe and productive night, to come home to my family, and just do the best I can.”