Glen Rose High School Resource Officer Shane Tipton was on patrol in a housing development just outside Glen Rose during spring break when he drove past a young boy riding a bicycle. The boy waved at him, and something else caught his eye.
He turned his vehicle around and stopped to confirm what he had seen.
It may have seemed like a mirror image of himself as a boy, innocently playing cops and robbers.
The boy, 9-year-old Carter Templeton, was decked out in a vest, plus a toy gun belt, handheld (walkie talkie) radio, and even toy handcuffs.
Carter’s mother, Paige Templeton, was in their front yard monitoring his play and saw Tipton get out of his vehicle, in full uniform.
“His mom thought he was in trouble,” Tipton said of the Glen Rose Intermediate School third-grader.
But, Tipton explained, it was just a friendly stop fuelded by curiosity.
EVERYTHING BUT THE TASER
The first thing Tipton noticed was that Carter was wearing what looked like a bulletproof vest. As he looked closer, he realized the extent to which the youngster had equipped himself.
“He had a radio that looked as real as mine, and a duty belt, handcuff case, flashlight holder — he had the whole gear. He had a toy pistol with a real leather gun belt — exactly the same as mine — just this big,” Tipton said, motioning with his hands to show the boy’s tiny waist size.
About the only thing the boy didn’t have was a toy taser, Tipton noted.
Tipton said the boy told him, “Yeah, I’m on patrol every day. I check these houses (in his neighborhood).”
Carter’s father, Pryor Templeton, is a sergeant with the Texas Highway Patrol based out of Johnson County, his mother told Tipton.
“He said, ‘I want to be a cop, just like you and my dad,’ “ Tipton said. “It made me think about when I got into it. It wasn’t for the money. It was because it’s what I wanted to do. From a child, I always wanted to be a cop.”
Tipton pulled his own real-life bulletproof vest from his vehicle and put it on while Carter’s mother took photos of them beside his patrol vehicle.
Paige Templeton said, “His face lit up. It was adorable. He is obsessed with police officers and the police department. He loves it all.”
The vest Carter had on was actually an “Airsoft” vest, designed for protection while playing paintball.
Carter enjoys including some of the neighborhood kids in his law enforcement role playing, even “pulling them over” on their bikes to issue imaginary speeding tickets.
“He wants to be like that,” his mother said. “He wants to help people and get bad people off the streets. He has a very strong sense of right and wrong.”
Carter has an older brother, 12-year-old seventh grader Rylan, and 7-year-old first-grader Brynlee. But they have other interests, and never had Carter’s enthusiasm for law enforcement play.
Paige Templeton said the family moved to Somervell County about 15 years ago from Amarillo, where her husband was previously based with the DPS.
A GOOD FEELING
Tipton said it made an impression on him to see the youngster put law enforcement officers in a favorable light.
“It made me feel better and sleep better at night after I met him,” Tipton said. “He was positive, energetic and full of life. I told him I was glad, and proud for him. It refreshed my soul that somebody wanted to do the job — so enthusiastic, so positive.”
Paige Templeton said that Carter has always loved pretending to be a cop, although he also enjoys playing football and other sports.
“He’s an active little dude,” she said. “He wears me out.”
NOT THE REAL THING
Tipton noted that parents should make sure that their children aren’t using a toy gun that looks too realistic. Toy guns sold nowadays have to have either a yellow or orange color so they can’t be mistaken for the real thing.
“Make sure it’s noticeably and appropriately marked, where it’s obviously a toy gun,” said Tipton, who moved to Somervell County from Silverton with his family in 1975, when he was in the second grade.
Tipton, who will turn 50 years old in April, has been in law enforcement for 25 years.
After a very brief stint (two weeks) as a correctional officer here, Tipton was promoted to a deputy position with the Somervell County Sheriff’s Office. He retired in 2012 and was a member of the state park police at Dinosaur Valley State Park for one year before returning to the Sheriff’s Office in 2014.
“(Former) Sheriff (Greg) Doyle asked me to come back to this job (as school resource officer), and teaching criminal justice,” said Tipton, who has TEA certification and teaches two such classes at Glen Rose High School.
Tipton said he was attending Tarleton State University, intending to become a coach and teacher, but “chose the law enforcement route instead.”