BARBERTON, Ohio — Like these characters he draws by hand, photocopies and hands out to students, life is never just black and white.
“I have a very big demand list. Kids are always telling me what they want me to draw,” said Barberton police officer Steve Coburn. “I was drawing Mickey Mouse off my bedsheets from when I was like 6 years old.”
Throughout his life and nearly 23-year-long career, there have been ups and downs.
“My oldest daughter when she was small she had a lot of health problems. She struggled a lot with school,” he explained. “She actually was diagnosed with turrets when she was seven.”
But in those moments, Coburn says he and his daughter found joy.
“I would do drawings like this on pieces of paper towel roll and draw a little positive note and send her off to school,” he said. “She would get excited. She would tell me hey, you know all the kids now come by me at lunch. They want to see who today’s picture is.”
Coburn says eventually he started sharing his passion more. As he explained, “my youngest daughter started and she wanted the same thing. I was doing about two or three drawings a day.”
Now in his newest role, officer Coburn is sharing that same passion with his new family at Barberton Elementary West and East as the newest school resource officer.
“When I started in the school I remembered just how much my daughters enjoyed it and I wanted to share that with the other kids,” Coburn said. “It’s always been something I wanted to do.”
The job to protect and serve is his passion in addition to making others feel good through his art.
“I’d like them to understand that police officers are their friend and that we are there to help them and help people,” Coburn said. “I think it’s a win-win for both of us.”
Only now the character drawings that started on paper are brought to life at the school’s playground with lots of colorful chalk and positive affirmation.
“[It’s] just something to get them to stop and remind them of what’s important in life and to have a good, positive attitude,” Coburn said. “Police officers are no different than anybody else… I’d like them to understand that police officers are their friend and that we are there to help them and help people…they’re seeing that I have the same enjoyment and like getting a little chalk on my clothes just like they do.”