CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - One man is changing what it means to go beyond the “call of duty” for his community.
Friday morning, Rodney Smith, Jr., founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, made his way to the Queen City as part of a multi-state tour providing free lawn care to people in need.
“Love thy neighbor, help thy neighbor,” said Smith. “That’s what I’m trying to inspire.”
This is the sixth year for his tour, taken across all 50 states.
But this time, he says he wanted to focus on bridging the gaps between the community and those who serve them.
Smith landed in Charlotte as part of “Mowing with Cops,” an effort to get the police out to neighbors in-person and not only extend a helping hand, but also establish trust, camaraderie and empathy between law enforcement and those they serve.... a relationship Smith believes has taken a real hit in recent years.
“I’m trying to inspire communities and police officers to come together and build that relationship because I believe it’s important and it’s missing in a lot of communities.”
Bright and early, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers met with Smith and took the time to give some TLC to yards that needed a trim.
But it was more than that. Smith, in every state, asks the officers questions about what it’s like to walk in their shoes, uploading their answers to his social media and web pages in the hopes of building a bridge of understanding.
“I’m just meeting the different officers and finding out the most challenging thing or most rewarding thing about being a police officer,” Smith said.
Cpt. Ryan Kendall says efforts like Smith’s are always ones they take the time to be a part of because they want the community to know that police are on their side.
“It means a lot to us as an agency and to these officers that go out and work every day to have this kind of positive interaction,” said Kendall. “It’s really a motivation for us to keep moving forward.”
Though this tour was dedicated to honoring the men and women in blue, Smith has provided his free service to the elderly, single parents and veterans as well.
Strangely enough, Smith says as a kid mowing grass was one of his least favorite things to do.
“When I was younger, I disliked mowing lawns,” Smith said. “But God took something I dislike and turned it into something I love to do. And now I do it every day for free.”
And one last thing: he does his work with a decked-out lawn mower complete with an American flag and siren on the top that flashes blue and red when it’s getting the job done.
“Some officers say they want one themselves,” laughed Smith. “We might have to make a whole fleet for them.”