ALTOONA, Iowa — Officer Cameron Hale with the Altoona Police Department started using his social media to connect with the community through the department's K9 unit, but now he uses it to humanize himself and others behind the badge.
The officer, who is also a K9 handler to his partner K9 Duke, has 157,400 followers on Tik Tok.
He uses the social media site to post videos of him and the K9.
"The main purpose I started Tik Tok was to showcase our K9 unit as a whole," Hale said.
That purpose has shifted slightly to peeling back the curtains on his life. This is done through Tik Tok videos, where he shows his life outside of the badge with his family.
"It just goes to show that at the end of the day, this uniform comes off and I'm still the same person, Duke's still the same dog," Officer Hale said. "There's just two sides of us."
The K9 handler said his attempts to humanize the badge are time-consuming.
He said it can take up to 30 minutes to create a video, which only ends up being a few seconds, but he said it's worth it.
And Lt. Alyssa Wilson, with the Altoona Police Department, said what Hale is doing with K9 Duke, by humanizing the badge is important, especially during a time when police face scrutiny.
"To have officers have those social media platforms really have that insight into who we are as people, who we are as individuals, we are humans," Lieutenant Wilson said. "And to really show the community that and be transparent and let them know what our world is when we put on this uniform, is very valuable."
Officer Hale also noted another part of him humanizing the badge is meeting up with people who message him on Tik Tok about K9 Duke, and also passing out stickers with him and his partner.