Once he did a couple of ride-alongs as a teenager, Officer Charlie Kingery thought, I can’t believe people get paid to do this. He knew he wanted to go into law enforcement, majored in criminal justice in college, and is now an officer for the Lawrence, Indiana, Police Department. He spoke with A&E Real Crime about what he’s learned from Live PD, his own proudest moments and his now-very-well-known dance moves.
Have you learned anything from watching other departments on the show that has proven helpful in doing your own job?
There are always different ways to do things, different ways to talk to people, different ways to get information from people. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned from the show—how different departments do the same things that we do, but they do them in a different manner.
Do you have an example of something you’ve done where you’ve picked up a tip from someone you’ve seen on the show?
I always watched Kevin Lawrence [from Richland County, South Carolina], back in the day. I’ve learned quite a bit from him: how he interacts with people, the way he helped out his community, talked to people. I treat people fairly, treat people with respect, but then also do my job—I picked up on some [of those] things from him.
What’s been your proudest moment as a police officer?
It’s awesome to hear ‘Thank you,’ from people out there. I’ve had people come back and tell me, ‘Your arrest got me on the right track.’ You never really know [at the time] if it’s really going to have an effect on the person. You just try to do your job the best you can and hopefully it’s a positive outcome for them.
What do you find most challenging about being an officer?
Overcoming people’s negative perceptions of law enforcement.
How do you try to do that?
I just try to be myself. When I’m out there, I don’t change who I am. I just try to treat [everyone] with respect and try to do my job the best I can.
It’s clear that you appreciate the value of having a good time and having some laughs, even on the job, but how do you switch gears when things have to get serious right away?
You learn to pick up on people’s body language—when you can be fun, and when you have to be serious. In those moments when I’m being fun, in the back of my mind I’m ready to get serious at any moment. You want to have a good time out there, but it’s a very serious job as well, and at any point in time the switch can be flipped and you’ve got to be ready to do your job.
What does your family think of your job?
My family loves it. My son is 6 years old and he already wants to be a police officer, he says. He’s always in my car with me. In the driveway, I’ve got to turn the lights on for him, turn the siren on for him.
Your Git Up Challenge video has gotten quite a bit of attention. How did that come about?
I’m a big music guy. I’ve been dancing since I was young, so I already knew about the song and the challenge. My sister-in-law challenged me to do it at a family function. And then a couple of people on Twitter and some friends said, ‘You’ve got to do this challenge. You’ve got to do it in uniform; it’ll be hilarious.’ So I just did it! I thought it might make a few people laugh and it ended up blowing up.
Do you have any training or anything in dance?
No real training—it was just hanging out with a couple of friends from high school. I entered a high school talent show and danced with a couple of friends in that. I’ve been trying to find the video of that for a long time. Somebody’s got it out there.
You had a bit of a dance-off with a mom and two girls recently on Live PD. How did that come about?
Officer Bishop made a traffic stop and then he hit me on the radio, and was like, ‘Where are you? I need assistance over here on my traffic stop.’
I rushed over to him, thinking that he needed backup on a traffic stop. I got out of my car, and I was like, ‘What’s going on, ma’am?’
And he’s like, ‘These girls in the back seat think they can beat you in a dance-off.’
It was a real traffic stop , but before he stopped the car he saw the two girls and the mom dancing in the car.
That was probably one of the most fun moments in my career so far.