Living Stronger is a “CBS Evening News” series celebrating the people leading the way to longevity -- and inspiring the rest of us.
PLANO, Texas -- When Officer Arthur Parker directs traffic in front of Clark High School in Plano, Texas, the 57-year-old keeps the cars and his body moving, surprising some drivers.
“I had a patrol call and say someone called and said there’s an officer drunk in the street. They got a real call,” Parker said.
But to students and staff who know Officer Parker, or OP as he’s called, it’s nothing new.
He has worked as a school resource officer for the past 27 years and he’s living stronger by keeping people safe and spreading joy.
“He makes them laugh,” said Janice Williams, the high school’s principal.
“My first impression was ‘oh my gosh, this is gonna be the person that’s gonna be protecting us’ because he did his normal goofy OP (Officer Parker) thing and went into some kind of character, and he’s kept me laughing ever since,” Williams said.
To keep students motivated, Parker even taught himself a tune on the harmonica for every situation.
For a history lesson, he plays Taps. When he’s trying to get kids to move along, he said “Play ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Luke, I am your father, go to class.’”
To the teens at Clark High, he’s a confidant and confidence booster.
“OP, he really tries to find that connection,” said student Sapida Abbasi.
“He’s mostly just taught me how to be confident no matter what,” she said.
“When it’s fun. he’s always fun, when things get real, he’s strict,” said student Sirnic Mbua.
Last year, Officer Parker was voted Plano police officer of the year.
To show their appreciation, the students came up with a secret plan; They surprised the police veteran with a pep rally.
Parker believes making other people smile is the key to a happy life.
“I feel like I have so much to give, and I’m still not giving enough. Not many people have the opportunity or are aware of the power they have to make someone happy,” Parker said.