Teen with Down Syndrome becomes a police officer for a day
It was a dream come true for Ottawa’s Jacob Demers-Barrett.
The 16-year-old with Down Syndrome has wanted to be a cop for as long as his family can remember. “He’s always wanted to play police with his little police cars with my barbies and stuff,” says his sister Olivia.
That passion for the police was not lost on Jacob’s hockey coach, Jeff Kelly, who is also a retired police officer. “I first met Jacob and his family when we started the Ottawa Police Association's Special Hockey Heroes. It was pretty clear the dream of his was to be a police officer,” he says.
So Kelly called a friend at the Ottawa Police Service to see if Jacob could tag along for a day.
The OPS did much, much better than that. They made Jacob an honorary member, complete with a piping-in ceremony with Chief Charles Bordeleau. Then members of the force took Jacob on a full day of tours and training activities. Highlights included hand-gun target practise on a new state-of-the-art electronic simulator, and a staged car chase and take-down on a special closed course.
All through the day, one phrase kept coming back to Jacob time and time again. “It is awesome!”
For his parents, it was an exciting yet bittersweet day. “We’re getting to the point in Jacob’s life where the realities and limitations of what he can and can’t do are starting to present themselves,” says his mother, Chantal Demers. “This is what he thinks he’s going to do in life. This is what he wants to do. So it’s very special. It’s very emotional.”
The police officers involved did their best to make sure Jacob had a day to remember. Thanks to his infectious enthusiasm, it’s one many of them won’t forget either. “Every single person that has met Jacob today has had an amazing time,” says Staff Sergeant Heather Lachine. “It’s been a special day for everyone.”