Anyone who watches a Mardi Gras parade on the corner of Dauphin and Royal Streets in Mobile knows officer Jeremy March. Before the floats roll by, he walks along the barricade talking with people in the crowd and playing patty cake with kids. There is no sitting still or letting the parade pass him by. He prances with the dance teams, twirls a fire baton with Brittany’s Twirling Crew or waves as he rises a stick horse down Royal. He kicks stray balls under the fence and encourages competition for the stuffed animals and toys he gras in the street. It is easy to forget March is a police officer and see the man behind the yellow vest. That is the point.
“I wanted to be a cop to help people. My brother-in-law was a police officer and I did a couple of rides with him and applied. Here I am 20 years later. It is getting harder to find people who want to be a police officer. I an in internal affairs and police the police. In July, I started Cops for Kids. That is where I want to spend most of my time because I have always had a heart for kids.
I want kids to understand that police officers are human. We like to have fun and we are approachable. When I talk to them in schools, many tell me about a family member in jail or that a police officer came to their house the night before. They have heard bad talk about cops from family members and law enforcement is getting a bad rap. I want to give kids a lighter side of that. I let them sit in the police car and turn on the lights and sirens. I also give them stuffed animals and police badge stickers. The mayor wants to be the safest city by 2020. I think the best way to reach the parents is through the kids. I love to see some of my kids from the elementary schools out here at Mardi Gras.
I have been at the same corner for six or seven years and started doing fun things when a mask from one of the floaters fell off. It looked like half of a human face so I put it on. I had light-up ninja swords and stuck them behind me. Kids wanted to high-five and take pictures and it escalated from there. I am not the only officer that has fun. One was walking with a band as security and when they got to my corner, he started dancing with them. I thought, ‘Heck no, there is no way he is doing that on my corner,’ so we had a dance-off. My dancing started from there.
Mark Zuckerberg was at my corner last year when he was on his tour of the states. I said to him, ‘This may be a stupid question.’ He grinned and said, “I am.’ He asked me to keep it quiet because they were just here to have a good time. I had my picture made with him.
I work 40 hours a week and all of my hours during Mardi Gras are overtime. It is a good payday but some officers are on duty during Mardi Gras and they don’t get overtime. They leave here and go back to regular duties. At least 200 officers work each parade and there is an officer at every intersection. The last two days all of us are here all day. Those are stressful days. We are tired and cranky by the time it is over, but I will still kick it around a little bit. Mobile gets a bad rap from time to time, but that is getting better and I like working here.”