Photo Of Halifax Cop And Busker Goes Viral

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HALIFAX — A Halifax police officer who has touched many Canadians is popping up in paintings, movies, video games and even a Miley Cyrus music video thanks to a transformative online hashtag.

A photo of a Const. Shawn Currie sitting on the sidewalk with a busker has captured the hearts and 'likes' of thousands of social-media users since being posted on Thursday.

halifax cop panhandler
Community officer Const. Shawn Currie, right, sits down for a chat with a busker on the sidewalk in Halifax in this May 26, 2016, handout photo. (Photo: Bruno Baurin/Handout)

After hundreds of reposts and shares, the photo has mutated into an online meme under the hashtag #HaliCop.

Facebook and Twitter users have called the original photo an "awesome'' and "heartwarming'' show of compassionate policing.

The photo shows a uniformed officer reclining casually on the sidewalk, his outstretched legs crossed at the ankles, having a quiet chat with a busker on Spring Garden Road.

Federal worker Bruno Baurin saw passersby doing double-takes as he strolled past the scene during his lunch break on Thursday, and was so moved that he stopped in his tracks and turned around to snap a photo.

"Sometimes you just need someone to talk to or someone to listen.''

"Here's a great image of two people from two different worlds ... that took the time to share something in common,'' Baurin said in an interview Friday. "One's trying to survive, and the other one is trying to help the other one survive.

"Sometimes you just need someone to talk to or someone to listen.''

Baurin posted the photo to social media, where users responded with enthusiastic approval for the street-level policing.

"Blessings to this police officer for (t)aking the time to care,'' Facebook user Suzanne Lawrence wrote. "Proud to be a Haligonian!''

halifax cop photoshop
Community officer Const. Shawn Currie, the Halifax police officer who was pictured having a chat with a busker on the sidewalk has been turned into a meme shared across social media, such as this one mixed with Harry Potter by Robin Spittal. (Photo: Robin Spittal/Handout)

"This is an awesome picture ... shows compassion and a dedication to his job,'' Fern McCuish wrote. "It is better to be on a human level for situations like this and not look down from above in an authoritative manner. Well done officer.''

The post has received over 1,000 reactions on Facebook and has been shared hundreds of times.

"Proud to be a Haligonian!''

"Police officers don't always get the due they deserve,'' Baurin said. "People might have negative views on both (the officer and the busker). You can see that everyone's human.''

Halifax Regional Police identified the officer as community officer Const. Currie, who was the subject of another viral photo last year when he wrote up a fake ticket for a three-year-old boy who was "illegally stopped'' on his plastic motorcycle.

halifax cop photoshop
A Halifax police officer is popping up in paintings, movies, video games and even a Miley Cyrus music video thanks to social media users. This one shows him with Jasmine, a character from the Disney film Aladdin, by Twitter user @rayrayleen. (Photo: @rayrayleen/Handout)

Insp. Lindsay Hernden said in an interview earlier this month that police have a close relationship with many panhandlers in the downtown area and know they are on the streets for a variety of reasons — from mental health and addiction problems to homelessness and the need to supplement their incomes.

"We are not going to solve this issue through enforcement,'' said Hernden. "It is going to take a community of people to come together and deal with some of the underlying issues that exist that lead to a person being on the street.''

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