‘This is the way it should be’: Tennessee police officer helps teens with their ties for senior photos

Michelle Lowe didn’t know how to help her godson and his friend tie their neckties, so she flagged down a police officer, who lent a hand to the young men who were heading to have their senior photos taken.

"I just thought this is the way it should be," Lowe told FOX Television Stations. "I didn’t even realize the picture was being taken."

Back in March, she took the two teens to Liberty Park in Clarksville, Tennessee, for their high school senior photos. But Lowe’s godson, 18-year-old Elijah Darling, and his friend, 18-year-old Jalen Lewis, didn’t know how to tie their ties.

Officer Adam Price said he was patrolling the area when he saw Lowe. He said he was relieved he wasn’t needed for something worse, but he realized he hadn’t tied a tie in more than a year. Price said his stepfather taught him when he was younger.

"But I got out there, figured it out and got them going," he told FOX Television Stations.

Price pulled over and helped the teens, first tying the ties around his own neck and then putting them on Darling and Lewis.

"It’s just a normal part of our day," Price continued. "That’s something we’re called to do often. That’s actually the best part of it for me. It’s not fighting crime. It’s doing these little things in the community."

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The high school students said they felt awkward at first having a stranger help them get dressed up for their photos.

"I was kind of confused, like, I didn’t expect this to be happening," Darling said. "I thought he was going to leave at first."

"I was thinking this is weird," Lewis added.

Darling and Lewis joked they still don’t know how to properly tie a tie and will need a refresher course.

Price, Lowe and the teenagers believe their moment together will help bridge the relationship between police officers and the community. Lewis said before meeting Price, he kept his distance from police officers even with the understanding that not all of them were bad people.

But the teens said they still have their reservations about law enforcement.

"I just still stay a little wary just because of the situations that have happened in the past. Not that it has anything to do with me personally, but just as being a young, Black man," Lewis said.

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"I’m not going to really keep my distance from cops, I’ll just kind of be more aware of my surroundings," Darling added.

Lowe, who serves as the county’s Human Resource Director, said there are plenty of good cops in the country. She also believes that race was a factor in the picture going viral.

"I don’t think it would have taken off, gone viral, had it not been African American boys and a White officer," she said. "I think there are more stories like this that people need to see."

Price hopes the story will help people realize many officers are approachable, but he understands the hesitation. 

"Got more work to do," he said. "It’s not going to stop the fact that I have to make a positive impact every day."

This story was reported from Los Angeles.