LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — You may know him as Officer Tommy Norman, the fun and community-focused police officer with a big heart.
But what you may not realize is that one year ago on November 17, 2021, Officer Norman received a call that would change his life forever.
This time, the North Little Rock police officer wouldn’t be responding to a regular civilian call— but his own daughter’s overdose.
"The morning of November 17, I'm at work, and my phone rings. It says The Harbor Home, which is where Alyssa lived,” he said.
Confused, Norman said, “I froze because I didn't want to answer the phone because I was like why wasn't she calling me."
It was during this call that Norman realized that something was terribly wrong with his daughter.
"They said, ‘Mr. Norman, Alyssa overdosed last night.’ So my response was, `Where is she? I want to come see my daughter,’" he said.
But he'd never get the chance to see her alive again— 26-year-old Alyssa Victoria-Rose Norman was gone.
Her father said that this year has been extremely hard for his entire family, but he’s been finding ways to deal with the grief one year later.
One of the hardest things for him to grapple with though was the fact that Alyssa never intended on going to bed that night and never waking up.
“She wasn't planning on passing away. I had plans the next day to spend time with her,” Norman explained.
Although the two did speak the night before Alyssa’s passing, Norman shared that his daughter didn’t sound like herself when she spoke to her father.
Norman went to bed with an unsettling feeling— only to learn the following morning that Alyssa had passed away from a fatal overdose.
"I remember dropping my phone and my head hit the steering wheel of my police car,” he said. “When they carried her body out in a white body bag, I went into police mode, like I was on duty. The only way I could protect my brain was to say I'm working and I'm on duty."
Now, he’s still trying to process his emotions after losing his daughter, and Norman admitted that he hasn’t had “the cry” he wants to— and he’s not sure if he ever will.
The pain was so traumatic for Norman, that he felt like he suffered literal heartbreak— the officer had a massive heart attack almost four months to the day after his daughter’s passing.
“I know God saved my life, I know EMS saved my life, but Alyssa saved my life. I could hear her saying, 'Dad, not today.’"
Norman said that he’s doing much better now, but the pain is still there.
In the meantime, as he “walks hand in hand with grief,” Norman shared that he visited Alyssa’s gravesite to mark the anniversary of her death.
It may not make her overdose any easier, but it served as a reminder of just how deadly synthetic opioids can be.
"The drugs that are out today, not just in Arkansas, but across the United States can take you in a snap of a finger,” he said.
Norman said that according to the coroner’s report, Alyssa passed away from “fentanyl intoxication."
According to the CDC, over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
"For young people out there, don't give in, don't take drugs. And for adults, if you do drugs, make sure you know what you're taking,” Norman added.
Now, he’s using his platform to help raise awareness.
"I've had drug addicts reach out to me privately to say, ‘because of your daughter's story, I've stopped using drugs, or I got help,’" he shared.
Norman described his daughter as “daddy’s girl”— she was a sweet person who loved helping others.
Knowing that she’s still impacting others even after her death has helped her family grieve, and also celebrate her legacy.
While Alyssa’s addiction may have been on and off again, spanning from her late teens to early twenties, her father told us that she was on the right track as she neared her death.
We’re told she recently passed her real estate exam, had recently been baptized, and was a good mother to her son.