Officer Erik Ahrens didn't realize what would come of a gift he and fellow officers gave two years ago.

"We saw this kid and he was outgoing and so nice. Then we noticed the pink bike with no brakes," Ahrens said.

The community police officer is talking about D'Andre Nelson, who was 15-years-old when they first met. Nelson was riding his sister's old bike after someone had stolen his.

"I just rode up and said hey," Nelson said.

Ahrens says the young man left an impression on fellow officers, who then raised money to get Nelson a new bike.

"I thought, ‘Wow something so great came out of one thing,’" Nelson said.

Now 17 years old, Nelson works part time, goes to school and is getting ready to attend college to study game design. Even with all that, he finds time to follow Officer Ahrens and the other community officers on their bike patrols.

"Oh everybody knows D'Andre. He's always helping with the Boys and Girls Club and he says hi to every officer around," Ahrens said.

D'Andre Nelson and officer Erik Ahrens
D'Andre Nelson and officer Erik Ahrens

"I think young people and adults should respect authority, where would we be without it?" Nelson said.

Ahrens and department leaders say this is one of best examples of community policing and what it can achieve.

"I have this new connection to the community and neighborhood but I also have a lifelong friend," Aherns said of Nelson.

Officer David Tilley with the Plano Police Department said these relationships help the community as a whole.

"We believe when people know an officer they are more likely to ask for help,” Tilley said. “That way we know what is going on and what our neighbors need.”

As of publication of this story, the department had 19 community police officers and they’d approved a budget to add six more in the next year.

"It shows our commitment to this approach. It's part of our mission," Tilley said.

Because officers say they can do all the work in the world, but it's the community support from people like D'Andre that helps them the most.

D'Andre Nelson has been following officer Erik Ahrens on his bike for two years now.
D'Andre Nelson has been following officer Erik Ahrens on his bike for two years now.