Ask Deputy Kevin Lawrence who his favorite superhero is, and his answer, without hesitation: Batman.
"Batman is one of those guys — he trains, he uses his instincts and he has no somewhat superhero power like some of the other guys," said Lawrence, 34. "He's just a human with an enhanced work ethic and a few tools, and it makes him kind of peak above the rest."
Lawrence, and his fellow Richland County deputies who appear on the A&E documentary series "Live PD," are also just humans. They aren't superheroes. They don't wear capes. They don't have super powers — just arresting powers. But that doesn't stop the looks they get from children who watch the show, when they appear at school functions, career fairs or community events.
"You get little kids running up to you, wanting to be police officers again," Lawrence said of the show's impact. "They watch you on TV and they kind of look at you as they look at superheroes — like we used to look at officers. It's restoring faith back in this profession."
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'I was kind of bad'
The son of a CIA agent and an FBI fingerprint analyst, Lawrence was born into law enforcement.
"That's pretty much all I knew my entire life, and I always had a respect for my parents and wanted to follow in their footsteps," he said.
Still, Lawrence said, he was "kind of bad" in middle school and saw friends of his get arrested for fighting in high school. It was during a ride-along with his school resource officer at Silver Bluff High School in Aiken County that Lawrence realized he wanted to work in law enforcement.
Growing up, Lawrence said he was fascinated by weather and wanted to be a meteorologist.
"But when I learned in college how much math it required, I was like, 'Nah,'" he said, shaking his head and laughing.
As a reserve deputy with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, Lawrence rode along with Capt. Eric Abdullah.
"He was very eager to learn everything about the job," Abdullah said. "He definitely displayed that passion to be a police officer and be a servant for any community he would have wanted to work in."
After stints as a deputy in Aiken County and a police officer in New Ellenton, Lawrence in 2007 joined the Richland County Sheriff's Department.
'Just like any other show'
In nearly 11 years at Richland County, Lawrence has never been one to shy away from the camera.
He's appeared on the long-running show "COPS" and the short-lived TruTV series "Over the Limit," both of which have followed Richland County officers. So, excitement wasn't too high when the sheriff's department was approached about being part of a then-unnamed police documentary series on A&E.
"We thought it was just like any other show — it was going to be here for a little while and it was going to leave," Lawrence said of what would eventually be called "Live PD."
Lawrence was among the officers selected by the sheriff's department's command staff who went for interviews with the network in New York. He only made his first appearance on the show when he filled in for Lt. Danny Brown — another Richland County regular — after Brown became sick one weekend.
In that episode, deputies pursued a man who claimed he didn't think the dozen or so patrol cars with blue lights behind him were trying to pull him over. He was bleeding after the collision, and Lawrence pulled gloves out of his pouch and wiped the blood from the man's face.
Since then, Lawrence — dubbed "Mr. Chill" and "KLaw" by the show's fans — has become known for being calm and caring but also straight forward.
"Deputy Lawrence is very adept at deescalating and humanizing situations no matter how intense or desperate the circumstances may be," said Dan Cesareo, president of Big Fish Entertainment and an executive producer of the show. "That calm, level-headed and compassionate approach to the work and the community is what viewers consistently respond to."
Lawrence's popularity has earned him a couple of trips to the "Live PD" studios in New York, where he sat with the hosts during broadcasts.
"Kevin Lawrence offers everything we want from our police officers," host Dan Abrams said. "Commitment, passion for his job, a well-tuned moral compass and a dollop of empathy."
'We try to be fair'
Being honest, and rewarding that honesty, are part of Lawrence's policing style, he said.
During an episode of the show last month, deputies pulled over a young driver who had a small amount of marijuana in the car. The driver, clearly upset at the possibility of being arrested, started crying.
"I could tell he was a good kid," Lawrence said. "And I told him, 'I'm not saving the world with this dime bag, but I've got to do my job. You're gonna get a ticket, you're gonna have your day in court."
Rather than arrest the driver and have the car towed, Lawrence wrote him a ticket with a court date and advised him of the pretrial or diversionary programs he could enter.
"There's two types of people: People that make mistakes and learn from them, and people that continue to make them," he said. "If you learn from your mistake, you've bettered yourself. He actually learned.
"We try to be fair, but at the same time we have to do our jobs," he said.
The 'meat and potatoes' of an arrest
When officers make an arrest, Lawrence said a show like "Live PD" puts the arrest into context.
Before the show, viewers only saw what Lawrence called "Part III" in news clips.
"This person got arrested because this happened," he said. "Now, you see Part I, Part II and Part III. You see the meat and potatoes of the entire dinner, and lot of people now understand why we do what we do."
Though his parents were both in law enforcement, Lawrence said they don't watch the show.
"They've seen a lot of different situations, and they don't possibly want to see me get killed on national TV," he said. "And they don't want to see people disrespecting me and cursing me."
Still, he said, the mostly-positive feedback from people around the country has been humbling.
"I never thought, 14 years ago, I would get this kind of popularity doing what I've been doing," he said. "It's surprising. It's also humbling to know that people support law enforcement."
'In all, we're God's people'
When asked about a case or a call that stood out to him, Lawrence thought back to a welfare check on an elderly woman in the Greenview area of Richland County.
Her neighbors, who were gathered in front of the home, knew she had been in the hospital recently but weren't sure if she had been discharged, Lawrence said. The woman's normally neat yard was in disarray, and her mail was piling up.
Lawrence recalled entering the home and finding the woman dead from natural causes. The case sticks out for him because it was a lesson not in law enforcement, but in humanity.
"We're there for crime," he said. "But, in all, we're God's people. So we're there to help each other."
He encourages people to check on someone, "even if you don't like somebody, even if you don't know what somebody's going through."
"If somebody had checked on her, and they knew she had gotten out of the hospital and they knew her yard was in disarray, they probably could have prevented her death," he said. "It's bigger than law enforcement. It all goes back to caring for each other."