Killeen officer practices community policing

Channel 6 Emani Payne reports.

KILLEEN - A photo of a Killeen Police officer shooting hoops with two local residents has caught a ton of attention online. 

Gabriel Montalvo and Albert Diaz were shooting hoops on a hot summer day when Officer Jonathan Firebaugh approached them.


Montalvo and Diaz were confused about what the cop wanted as he walked over. 

"The first thing that ran through my mind was, 'did I pay all my tickets?'," Montalvo said. 

But Firebaugh was not there to enforce the law.

Rather, the Killeen cop just wanted to join in on the pickup basketball game. 

"He came up to us and said 'hey can I play?'," Montalvo said. "Me and my cousin both looked at each other like 'For real? Ok!'"

Diaz said the encounter was a surprise because he'd never seen a cop do that before. 

In the midst of the pickup game, Montalvo took a few pictures of the interaction, and the photos quickly went viral online with positive remarks from numerous members of the community.

"What we see on television with police and stuff like that... I was expecting the worse and he gave us the best," Montalvo said.

Killeen Police Officer Jonathan Firebaugh said getting to know the people in the community he serves has always been important to him, and people are noticing. 

Firebaugh has worked for the Killeen Police Department for nearly six years.

The Killeen cop said interacting with the community is one of the best parts of his job.

"I want them to see I am a normal person, too," Firebaugh said. "I like playing basketball. I like talking with people. I like getting out of my car and connecting, so I don't necessarily call it community policing. I call it....my job."

Firebaugh said he tries his best to embody the department's slogan, "wearing the badge and making a difference."

"I want parents of these kids to know when I step out and talk to their kid, it's a positive thing," Firebaugh said. "I want to have that kid be able to trust me and be able to come to me if there is a problem."

There may be confusion as to who actually won the basketball game. 

Montalvo claimed he won. Diaz rebutted and said he won. Firebaugh denied either claim and ensured he won. 

But at the end of the day, these three men proved that with just a little effort -- and maybe a basketball -- a new friendship can be formed.

Montalvo, Diaz, and Firebaugh all told Channel 6 they are looking forward to the next pickup game.

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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