Atlanta officer uses hazard pay to buy students tablets for school

For Atlanta police investigator Keith Backmon, being a public servant means helping those in need.

So, when he discovered five children in the southeast Atlanta community he patrols were unable to complete their school work due to lack of resources, he used the hazard pay he’s received from working during the coronavirus pandemic to purchase Amazon tablets.

“I don’t take my job lightly,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “People who know me as an officer and personally know that I love people and put them first.”

Backmon, 47, delivered the items Wednesday to the children who live at the Villas at Lakewood, where he works part time as a security guard, and Capitol Vanira Apartments where he investigated a shooting. The children were also given $30 to help pay for an internet connection.

In March, the threat of the coronavirus closed schools, forcing students to perform classwork online.

“Most kids in disadvantaged neighborhoods don’t have computers or internet access,” Backmon said.

Backmon joined the Atlanta Police Department in 2004 and says he’s grown close to the communities he patrols. “You have a lot of crime in that area and sometimes these kids get caught up and they see a lot of bad things going on,” he said. “It’s my job to combat the bad and restore the good.”

Giving back to his community is familiar territory for Backmon. As a police officer in Sumter, South Carolina, he created a “Making the Grade” program to reward students at two elementary schools for superior school grades and good behavior. He brought the same program to Capitol View Elementary School in southwest Atlanta before it closed in 2013.

He also mentors 25 kids at Conley Elementary School in East Point with his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. In December, Backmon and his fraternity brothers gave those students tablets.

“There are people out there that need help, and as a public servant I feel like all police officers should reach out to people in need,” he said.