When the Bridgewater (N.J.) Police visited St. Peter’s Hospital in December to drop gifts off to the pediatric ward – something the department has been doing since 2006 – they met a young boy who stole their hearts with his fascination for all-things police.
Malik Campbell, 5, has a rare form of cancer called Burkitt’s Leukemia. As a cancer survivor himself, Police Chief Richard Borden knows what Malik is going through -- so he wanted to make the little boy's dreams come true to give a boost to his battle.
“We wanted to do something more than just give him a gift for the holidays,” said Detective Tom Rice. “We all came up with the idea to swear him in as an honorary officer for the day – something we had never done before for anyone.”
NJ police swear in ill boy as honorary officer
Malik and his parents arrived at the station on April 10 where he was given a tour of police headquarters, given a ride in a police SUV, and even got to sit shotgun in a helicopter at the airport.
Malik was presented a police uniform and card with his name and the number one, along with many other pieces of police swag he could take home with him to remember the day.
“The ride in the SUV was by far the highlight for him and for his parents, I think,” Chief Borden said. “He turned on the lights, he gave a few radio transmissions – he even made an arrest of an undercover detective. He definitely played the role.”
As illustrated in the photos above, Malik started the day very shy and reserved, and progressively gained more confidence as he exercised his tasks as an officer.
Both Chief Borden and Detective Rice agreed the best part of their day was the ceremony, where Mailk was presented two proclamations – one from the state senator who was in attendance, and one from the Bridgewater Township – and he stood before the crowd of officers in uniform with his hands on his hips.
“He looked like a big shot,” Det. Rice said. “He looked like one and he felt like one.”
Two newly hired officers, Anthony Mendoza and Joseph Bones, were sworn in along with Malik.
“We’ve had many ceremonies, but there were definitely more officers here [that day] than we’d ever seen. It was a sea of blue in the courtroom – and it was a day-off for many of them,” said Borden.
After six rounds of chemotherapy, Malik is in remission. His ceremony was one of the first times he was given attention for something aside from his treatment. His parents –both teary-eyed – thanked the officers for going above and beyond for Malik.
“They kept saying, ‘what an honor’ but we really felt like it was honor to be able to do this for him,” said Det. Rice. “He really loved all the attention when he was being photographed and I think that made everyone smile.