He’s been called Canada’s coolest cop and has become somewhat of a celebrity in his southern Alberta community, but Const. Doug Sokoloski insists his story is just one example of the many positive gestures made by Mounties on the job every day.
The 49-year-old RCMP officer who lives in Pincher Creek, Alta., shot into the national spotlight after an Internet video showed him rocking the drums during an impromptu jam session with a group of campers he came across on a patrol.
The entire episode — which went viral after it was posted on YouTube this summer — took just four minutes but generated a lasting sense of goodwill towards the force.
"It's a good news story," Sokoloski tells The Canadian Press. "I'm not going to end up in a big band or gain any popularity or riches out of it but if it enhances the image of policing and of the RCMP, and it makes our job easier to do, you know, then go with it."
Sokoloski, who primarily deals with traffic incidents and acts as a spokesman for the Mounties in Pincher Creek, believes the small positive acts carried out by officers on a daily basis go unnoticed far too often.
"We get chastised for the few bad things we do, but every day there's thousands of good things done by police officers in our communities," he says.
Indeed, the popular drumming video provided a welcome boost to the perception of the Mounties in a year when the RCMP’s image has been battered by allegations of harassment and abusive behaviour within the force.
In his community, Sokoloski takes a hands-on approach to policing and focuses on building meaningful relationships with residents. Those bonds, he says, have undoubtedly been strengthened by all the buzz generated by the widely circulated video.
"From a work perspective it's made the job a lot easier and people want to approach you a lot more," he says with a chuckle. "I think it's made it easier for the other members in the area too."
The 17-year veteran of the force says he typically plays the guitar, and used to rock bars in Saskatchewan in the '80s with a band called “Shy Boy.” On occasion, he hammered away at the drums as well.
The incident which took place in July was just one part of a regular patrol for Sokoloski, who was driving along a rural forest access road when he spotted a set of drums through the trees. After chatting with the campers who were playing their instruments in the woods, Sokoloski asked if he could join in.
“I had never met the guy before, I didn't know what he was playing, so I just got a feel for it and I just played a beat,” he recalls. “I've never seen people jam in the forest before.”
The video of Sokoloski rocking out in the woods has since garnered more than 900,000 views on YouTube.
The popularity of the clip prompted him to display his musical prowess in public once more over the summer. This time, it was at a community parade during which he and two other Mounties rocked out on a float for 45 minutes.
“We just basically played some twelve bar blues, kinda rock with an edge in our red serge,” he explains. “We wanted to bring the RCMP closer to the community and we were kind of going off the theme of the original video and it was remarkable the response we got.”
Sokoloski hopes to participate in next year’s parade in some way as well and, going forward, is more than happy for his musical escapades to reveal a lighter side to the force.
“It was never intended to be anything more than just a basic standard day,” he says of the episode in the woods.
“But I think any time you get some positive spin you have to keep the momentum going.”
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Send Us Your Photos!
We kicked off our holiday kindness campaign by asking our readers for photos of good deeds tagged #kindness2012.
Words To Live By
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Cookies For Firefighters
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Happy Holidays, Troops
shan_nglam shared this Instagram photo of a holiday note for US troops.
"I like to perform at least one Random Act of Kindness a week," Johanna Schulman told HuffPost in an email. "And if I run out of ideas, I go to the Massachusetts list of unclaimed property, which is found at our Department of State Treasury. There I find an unusual name of a person who has at least $100 of unclaimed property and get to work. I Google the name until I have found an address for the person (that's why I always start with an unusual name, otherwise it's hard to. Then I print a copy of the page showing the property, circle their name, and send it to them anonymously with a little note. Usually I say 'Enjoy this random act of kindness and pay it forward!' I've attached a picture of todays RAOK! Dara Blendermann, it's your lucky day!"
Surprise At Barnes And Noble
"I don't have a photo, but today I was at Barnes and Noble with my kids and husband," Gina Lackey Diggs wrote to HuffPost. "When we came out of the store I saw a piece of paper under our windshield wiper. My removed it and saw it was a note that said, 'You are the world's only hope! Never give up! You are my people! Use this for whatever you can!' with a $20 bill inside! It was so awesome and random! I'm in California and don't know if it's because we still have 'Yes on Prop 37' written on our windows or our zombie family stickers or just random, but it was soooooo awesome!!!!"
The Forgotten Ones
"We started a fund here called 'The Forgotten Ones' where employees can give 10% of their next paycheck to hourly workers who they knew lost wages during Sandy," Marisa Beck wrote to HuffPost. "We thought this method of giving would be better than a generic one, since we would help the ones we knew personally, and who we knew were enduring hardship during this time. "Our engineers built a website to start documenting these stories and pictures, in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. <a href="http://www.oo.com/forgottenones" target="_hplink">Please feel free to take a look</a>."
Combat Holiday Stress
One solution to combat stress during the holidays is this tower of bubble wrap, which circulated on Twitter and is also an act of kindness. Underneath a sign reading "Anti-stress for free" are various bubble wrap sheets labelled 3 mins, 5 mins and 10 mins -- corresponding to how much time the stressed-out person needs. User @regeener sent the <a href="https://twitter.com/regeener/status/271016885473132544" target="_hplink">tweet</a> on November 20 with the original <a href="http://ktshy.tumblr.com/post/36164235847/superpunch2-anti-stress-sheets" target="_hplink">Tumblr</a> photo included.
A Winning Ticket?
We found this sweet act of kindness on Facebook, where someone using the account 'Michelle Phillips Key Seminars' shared something nice they did on November 20, two days before Thanksgiving.
A Generous Tip In Loving Memory
A generous act of kindness was shared in a post on <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/135fgt/random_act_of_kindness_indeed/" target="_hplink">Reddit</a> a few days before Thanksgiving. A note next to a $50 tip left on a restaurant receipt reads: "A random act of love in memory of our son, Joel. He brightened everyone's day. May this brighten yours. Thank you."
12 Years Of Thanksgiving
"A friend of mine for 12yrs has cooked & wrapped Tgiving plates to pass out in town," @lmcallister tweeted on November 20.
Boys & Girls Club Dinner
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County (@BGCHCorg) sent us this photo of their 37th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner at the Jersey City Boys & Girls Club.
A Truck Full Of Care
Kerri Richardson (@KerriCoach) sent us this photo of a community in Mass. that came together to fill a 16-foot truck with supplies for Hurricane Sandy victims.
Daughter Gives Away Shoes On Craigslist
On November 20, Stephanie King sent us this photo, which shows shoes that her daughter wants to post on Craigslist to give away as part of <a href="http://www.B2Challenge.com" target="_hplink">B2Challenge</a>.
Dinner's On Me
<a href="https://twitter.com/Uplifting_News" target="_hplink">@Uplifting_News</a> tweeted us this photo of a good deed from a Houston restauranteur who offered to give hungry families $100 toward a Thanksgiving dinner.
Kind Guard Offers Aid
"A kindly strange security guard helped me change my flat tire after pulling off the freeway," @lolagil <a href="https://twitter.com/lolagil/status/270691407684059136" target="_hplink">told us on Twitter</a> two days before Thanksgiving. "Thanks again perfect stranger!"
Lost And Found
@JayMortonRoss <a href="https://twitter.com/JayMortonRoss/status/271034645536186368/photo/1" target="_hplink">tweeted</a> this photo, which shows a thoughtful note written in response to a lost driver's license.
The Free World
"I got this on Veterans Day," @Bryant247 <a href="https://twitter.com/Bryant247/status/271023722775863297/photo/1" target="_hplink">told us</a> on Twitter. "Sometimes, little things like this make it all worthwhile."
Hitchhiking Through The Holidays
"Matt, hitchhiker got home to his family for the holiday," <a href="https://twitter.com/SaraTings/status/271311862895894529/photo/1" target="_hplink">@SaraTings told us</a> on Twitter.
Cart Full Of Thanks
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Popcorn & a Movie
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Paying it Forward
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez">mgonzalez</a>:<br />I paid forward my friend's kind gesture by putting money in someone's expired parking meter.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez">mgonzalez</a>:<br />My friend and I celebrated kindness by making an alien piñata, filling it with treats and leaving it on a bench for a lucky person to enjoy!
Giving People Gifts To Give
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