A 10-year old Newark boy who wants to become a police officer recently had his dream come true thanks to a police officer who went the extra mile.
Upon meeting Robbie Barrett over three years ago, Newark Police Department K-9 Officer Dan Weegar took an immediate liking to and subsequently befriended the boy, now a fifth-grader at Kelley School who with suffers with life-threatening kidney and bladder disease and related complications. And who, Weegar learned, dreams of becoming a police officer.
Thanks to Weegar, someday came much earlier than expected.
After asking Newark Police Chief David Christler if Barrett could be sworn in as an honorary NPD officer for a day, Christler asked Newark Mayor Jonathan Taylor for permission. He granted it.
Before the board meeting started, Newark Village Justice Michael Miller formally administered the oath to Barrett as his family, Weegar, Christler, seven NPD officers, three state troopers from Lyons, Taylor, village trustees and other village officials and an audience that had packed the courtroom watched.Christler also awarded Barrett with the Do The Right Thing Award. The day before the ceremony, Barrett had summoned help from police after finding an elderly woman who had fallen and needed emergency assistance near the Newark Municipal Building.
After reporting for duty minutes in advance of when his “shift” began, Barrett started shadowing Weegar, doing some of the things a typical day on the job could include. But only after the officer presented the boy with a police department shirt in his size — which he promptly put on and wore throughout his day on the job — did his official duties start.
Barrett looked over the overnight policing activities logbook with Weegar soon after the workday began. He learned about digital finger printing and how it compares with the older method that employed black ink and white paper. Barrett even helped take a picture of Christler, who allowed himself to be photographed so Barrett could learn about how people who are arrested are processed and identified. He also toured the police department headquarters.
He then attended a brief morning session of village court presided over by Miller. Barrett rode in Weegar’s patrol vehicle throughout the day along with Weegar’s canine companion, Mac, a Belgian Malinois. The team visited Wayne County’s 911 emergency dispatch center and toured an unoccupied area of Wayne County Jail.
Barrett said his favorite part of the entire day was when he participated in a staged, off-road traffic stop in which he asked the driver, a plainclothes NPD member, to produce his license, registration and insurance card.
Weegar ended Barrett’s day as a police officer with lunch at Pizza Hut.
Barrett’s dad, Robert Barrett Sr., said his son slept with his NPD shirt on that night. While Barrett was not feeling well when he woke up the next day, his was still smiling over his time as a police officer.
“I think Officer Weegar has done a wonderful thing, not only for Robbie Barrett but for the village of Newark, our community and Newark Police Department as well,’’ Christler said. “I think his compassion for others goes beyond the normal call for duty.’’
Since meeting Barrett, Weegar has taken him out trick-or-treating the last few years on Halloween and has accompanied him at Kidney Walk fundraising events in Rochester.
Barrett, who takes numerous daily medications and has had several surgeries, receives ongoing treatment at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester and is often not well enough to attend school. On those days he remains at home under the care of his mom, Lisa, and participates in classroom instruction remotely via a robot named Penny.
Kelley School Principal Jeff Hamelinck said the school is able to provide the robot and it’s companion monitor in his teacher Alicia Nardozzi’s classroom for Barrett because of a leasing arrangement with Wayne-Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
With mountainous medical expenses, Barrett’s dad, a maintenance worker, and mom, who volunteers at the Newark food closet, struggle to keep up with what their health insurance doesn’t cover. To help others in similar situations, the Barretts have a GoFundMe account — bit.ly/2n1UT2x — in hopes of starting a nonprofit organization to help other kids with illnesses whose families are struggling to pay medical expenses not covered by insurance.