Officer Parker: The Man Behind The Badge
Officer Gregory Parker was just doing his job the day he chased a suspect who was driving a stolen vehicle. Moments later, with that vehicle wedged between two others, the suspect leapt out and fled on foot. Officer Parker chased after him for 22 seconds, until he tackled the suspect and clicked the handcuffs on.
He had no idea the video of that chase made the news and he never imagined it would go viral. As the notifications lit up his phone the following day, the young Officer unwittingly stepped into a national spotlight.
That spotlight expanded with a call from the hit TV show, Ultimate Tag, and continues to shine today, well after he competed on that show.
Today, Officer Parker is a strong and swiftly rising social media Influencer as well as a proud member of the Baltimore Police Department.
Every day he upholds his oath to serve and protect his community in person, and steps forward to bring motivation, insight, and inspiration to his community online.
It would be easy to look at him as he is today – strong, fit, confident, well-known and respected, and think he’s always been that way. But behind the badge and the smile is a story of hardship and challenges that tends to break those without the willpower and grit he has.
The car chase and foot pursuit that was captured on film that day is a completely opposite picture of another car chase he’d been involved in years ago.
Gregory Parker is one of six kids in his family. Periodically homeless, Gregory learned about adversity from a young age. His childhood consisted of a father who thought nothing of using drugs or beating his wife in front of his kids. Young Gregory has vivid memories of seeing his father almost kill his mother, and of being in the car when his father attempted to flee the police. His father crashed the car into a tree and abandoned his kids as he fled on foot.
That was the final push for Gregory’s mom, who took her children and moved to Maryland.
Now a single mother with six kids to provide for, Gregory’s mom spent most of her time and energy working to provide for her family. The void in his life where a father should be, guiding and mentoring his kids, became more noticeable as Gregory grew up. He craved that male role model.
Joining the volunteer firefighters in his community served as a way for Gregory to focus on something positive, and also to connect with that male camaraderie he’d always wanted. Over time, he got to know many of the police officers in the community, as their paths and missions often overlapped. The inspiration he felt most strongly came from the police officers, and Gregory decided that would be the path for him.
For Officer Gregory Parker the motivation was the easy part.
He knew this is what he wanted to do, and eagerly went through the application process, ready to begin his career.
The first denial hit hard. Gregory assured himself the next time would be it, and continued his work as an unarmed security guard to bridge the gap until then.
But one denial turned into another and the months turned into years. Gregory began to feel defeated, walking 3 miles a day to his $7.50 an hour job. His shoes had holes in them and his spirit was almost as damp as his feet on rainy days.
It was a test of his spirit, but he refused to quit, no matter how tempting it was.
One day fate sent him the help he needed. Gregory met armed security guard Antonio Green at a supermarket, and the men became friends. Antonio was a police officer working the security job for extra income. He took Gregory under his wing and mentored him through the steps he needed to take, to achieve his own dream of becoming a police officer.
Antonio showed Gregory unwavering support and encouragement. Daily texts to inspire him to get up and keep moving forward were often the push he needed not to give up.
With Antonio’s help, Gregory got a concealed carry permit. That opened the door to move from an unarmed security job to an armed one at nearly triple the pay. The experience bumped up his resume, and Gregory was finally accepted into the police academy.
Graduation Day was one of the happiest days in his life. With his mom and his mentor, along with some of his siblings watching, Gregory Parker walked onto the stage and Officer Parker walked off.
The emotions hit the day before graduation and linger still to this day. Exhausted tears mingled with joyful and proud tears as he reflected on the long path he’d walked to arrive where he was. For years, as he’d battled failure and depression, he’d seen his father reflected back in the mirror. Graduating as a police officer changed that.
From that moment forward, he says, he realized he could be different. He didn’t have to take the same broken path his father chose. Different choices could lead to a different result..
“It’s not just a gun or a uniform for me,” he says. From then on I was able to truly define who I was because of my choices and the hard work I put in- not the choices of my father.”
The feeling of hearing “Officer Parker” and wearing that badge meant everything to him. It meant he was no longer a victim of his father. He was no longer Gregory Parker, his father’s son. That life was over and his new life awaited.
He stepped into it with everything he had, and continues to do so today.
It’s been four years since Officer Parker joined the police force. With the viral video, his appearance on Ultimate Tag, and sharing his fitness journey on social media, he’s emerged as an Influencer both in and out of uniform. It’s a platform he both embraces and treats with care.
The volatile environment in our country today has led to police officers being targeted for violence. The tragic actions of a small number of officers who abuse their power has been seized upon by agitators who have turned tragedy into opportunity to advance their own goals of divisiveness and anarchy, and no one is paying more for that anarchy than the men and women of law enforcement. One misspoken word and the consequences could be severe.
Officer Parker sees these events as occurring in two shifts.
First was the justified outrage over isolated incidents of police brutality. That just cause was turned into an outlet for riots. “The world went up in flames,” he says.
He understands why people are angry. He agrees that the abuse of power is wrong, and he shows up each day to serve his community along with other police officers doing the same. For years, he walked past the same people who were also wary of the police. There was rarely, if ever, any interaction between them.
But now the second shift is occurring. This is the shift towards recognizing the police officers are being unjustly attacked as a whole for the actions of a few, and the need to put an end to the anarchy.
“Be safe,” they say as he walks by. “We still don’t support all you do, but this is crazy,” they say.
People are realizing we could be on the brink of a civil war that most people don’t want, says Officer Parker. He is on the front lines of that. He receives thousands of messages a week from people afraid to fly an American or a Blue Line flag, or put a sticker on their cars. He wonders himself if today will be the day he or a colleague will be the next YouTube star because of an incident at work, blown up into a 15 second clip that slants the incident to paint another false image of police brutality.
He’s not saying police officers are perfect. They are subject to emotions and failures. They are people. But the majority of law enforcement officers are good people. The majority of the videos shown online are carefully edited clips created with an agenda to distort the truth.
He’d like to see Americans take a moment to assess the situation before responding. “Wait for the facts,” he says. “A lot of the videos don’t show the whole picture. It will only show 15 seconds out of 2 minutes. The facts will tell a different story than a cameraman for the news will.”
A lot of the content he shares on social media reflects these feelings and thoughts. He walks a fine line between honesty and politics, always careful to share the facts of a matter and invite his audience to make their own decisions. Still, he encourages people to step out of silence and into their own voice.
“if you support Law Enforcement, support it. Don’t look down at your feet. We can’t let people take over our country and tell us how to feel about one another. This is America. We don’t all have to agree. This country was built off of different views and perspectives. That’s what makes America, America!”