Rodney and Ronney Freeman played basketball together, graduated high school together and entered the police academy together. Now, after graduating in August, the twins are both patrolling the streets of San Francisco.
The San Francisco Police Department on Thursday released a video that chronicles the Freeman twins. The brothers grew up in the city and joined the force with hopes of patrolling the Visitacion Valley neighborhood, where they grew up under the care of their grandmother.
In the video, Ronney acknowledges the negative perception some have of officers, and advised incoming police academy students to challenge those perceptions.
"Join the department for the right reasons. Know why you’re doing it," Ronney said. "You want to do it because you want to help the community. You want to do it because you want to defy the stereotypes."
Though the video is part of the department’s regular recruitment efforts, its release comes at a time when the SFPD has been facing immense backlash.
In late November, San Francisco Police Officer Christopher Kohrs – whose good looks and svelte physique earned him the nickname "Hot Cop of Castro" on social media – was arrested and charged with two counts of felony hit-and-run. The pedestrians Kohrs allegedly hit and left at the scene were seriously injured, requiring extensive medical care.
The city’s police department has also been the focus on nationwide scrutiny after the police-involved shooting death of Mario Woods.
Police say Woods was suspected of a stabbing and refused commands to drop a knife. Critics and lawyers representing Woods' mother, however, say police used unnecessary force when they fired a barrage of bullets at the 26-year-old.
A previously unreleased video of the shooting shows Woods with his hands at his sides, apparently contradicting the police department’s account of what happened.
It was also revealed that two of the officers involved in the shooting have previously been accused of using excessive force.
In the aftermath of Woods’ death, San Francisco police have been taking measures to improve gun policies, according to Chief Greg Suhr. There has been talk using weapons that would inflict lethal injuries.
"The community deserves the best from us, so,you know, we’ve got to provide the best to them, said Ronney in the video. "Be a helpful hand. That’s the main thing."