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Local hero takes flight with Thunderbirds

A man in a green flight suit and a red helmet sits in a white aircraft with the glass top propped up.

Tommy Norman, North Little Rock Police Department officer and public figure, sits in an F-16 Fighting Falcon before a flight at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Oct. 26, 2018. Norman was honored as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds' Hometown Hero for his portrayal of being a positive role model as a police officer in the North Little Rock community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mercedes Taylor)

A man in a green flight suit is helped by another man on the right wearing a blue uniform. The man in the green suit is getting fitted with a sage green parachute.

From right, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jasper Roberts, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aircrew flight equipment NCOIC, fits Tommy Norman, North Little Rock Police Department officer and public figure, for a parachute at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Oct. 26, 2018. Norman was selected as the Thunderbirds’ Hometown Hero and was honored with a flight in one of their aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mercedes Taylor)

A man in a green flight suit stands before three white aircraft on a flightline.

Tommy Norman, North Little Rock Police Department officer and public figure, poses for a photo at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Oct. 26, 2018. Norman was selected as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds' Hometown Hero for his portrayal a positive role model as a police officer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mercedes Taylor)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

One of Central Arkansas’s local heroes was honored by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as the Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, “Hometown Hero” Oct. 26, 2018, prior to the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show.

As the Hometown Hero, Officer Tommy Norman, a North Little Rock Police Department officer and public figure, received a flight with the Thunderbirds in an F-16 Fighting Falcon. He was selected because of his activism in the community and reputation as a positive role model.

In 2015, Norman received attention after his social media videos of his interactions with civilians went viral while the actions of police officers had become closely reviewed online.

“About 10 years ago, I started posting videos and pictures of my interactions with people,” Norman said. “It gained a lot of attention in a time where not a lot of police officers were trusted; police officers were receiving a bad name across the world. Those videos received a lot of positive attention, so I kept making them.”

Norman eventually garnered approximately 2 million followers on Facebook and Instagram, and has been featured on television shows such as Basketball Wives, Dr. Phil and the Today Show. He was even given $10,000 in gift cards from Bruno Mars to make sure people in the community had shoes.

“I didn’t intend to have the platform I have now,” Norman said. “When I signed up as a police officer, I was just looking to continue to give. I didn’t know this was going to be something I would be blessed with. I feel obligated to continue because it makes people feel good about themselves around the world, and it puts people at peace.”

Because of his upbringing, Norman knew what his calling in life was at an early age.

“My mom taught all of us to put others first, even if that meant that we had to do without,” Norman said. “It was always about giving. It was just a way of life for me. I had a lawn mower and weed eater, and I would go around and mow people’s grass for free. It started from there. I would paint houses and deliver meals. I realized there were so many ways to give back. I realized what my purpose was in life, which was to be a giver.”

Later, Norman decided to become a police officer because he knew he could make more of an impact as a public servant. Norman decided to take it one step further and created the Mission Give foundation.

“I wanted to form a foundation to begin a legacy, but not limit it to being a police officer,” Norman said. “A lot of people know me as Officer Norman, but I want people to know me as Tommy. I want to prove to people you don’t have to be a police officer to give back. You can be an everyday, ordinary citizen to give and make a difference.”

Throughout his life, Norman has lived by one goal: to give back and make a difference. He strives to do that in his nation during a time where the actions of law enforcement personnel have been closely examined by the public eye.   

 “I’m really thankful to be selected as the Hometown Hero,” Norman said. “I don’t feel worthy and I don’t feel like I deserved it, but it’s a huge honor to be selected. I’m thankful it happened.”


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