Get the latest from TODAY
Who knew that cops love hopscotch? The hashtag #Copslovehopscotch is circulating on social media after one Huntington Beach, California, police officer decided to play a round of the game with a local girl who is homeless.
On March 30, Officer Zach Pricer and Officer Scott Marsh received a call about a suspicious vehicle in the Graham-Edinger area of Huntington Beach in Orange County. When they arrived at the scene, they found a mother and her 11-year-old daughter living out of a car. Marsh, speaking to the mother, contacted the police department’s Homeless Task Force to arrange housing for the pair. In the meantime, Pricer spontaneously decided to engage the woman’s daughter in a fun match of hopscotch to brighten her day.
“Being a policeman, it’s about communicating with people,” Pricer told TODAY. “And with kids, they just want to mess around and have fun, so I do that with them.”
Indeed, Pricer is no stranger to communicating with kids. In his nearly 13 years with the Huntington Beach Police Department, he has had a tea party, played with Nerf guns, and colored inside of the lines — all in an effort to bond with local youth and earn their trust.
“This was my first time playing hopscotch on duty, but I’ll always do whatever I can to break the ice and say ‘I’m Zach,’” he said. “I want them to know that they can be safe with me, so if there’s something I can do to make them feeling comfortable, I’m going to do it.”
Before becoming a police officer, Pricer was a U.S. Marine when he realized he had a passion for helping people, and calls his jump into the police force a “natural progression.” He credits the lessons he learned during his time in the Marine Corps to his ultimate success as a police officer. “I was young, highly motivated, and just wanted to help others,” he said. “I don’t think I’d be here today without those experiences.”
Since the hopscotch encounter earlier this week, a video capturing the moment has collected more than 928,000 views and thousands of ‘likes,’ with the hashtag #Copslovehopscotch. Now, Pricer is hoping the video will give Americans a little more insight about the routines of police officers, calling his interaction “police work 101.”
“You could call 50 different police departments and talk to 50 different officers across the country and they would say, ‘Yeah, that’s what we do,’” Pricer said of his time spent reaching out to local youth. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t always get recognized, but it’s what we do every day.”
As for the verdict on his hopscotch skills, Pricer says he’ll have to keep working on them for his 9 year-old daughter. “I know she’ll be my biggest critic,” he told TODAY. “So I’ll have to keep practicing.”