For a teen with an interest in law enforcement, this was a day with unique access into the many different units of a large and diverse police department. For a dedicated young officer, it was an opportunity to share the message of how police protect and serve a community, including the children who reside within it.
Officer Brandi May of the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) recently reached out to the Department of Human Services (DHS) after seeing a video of a young child in need of a foster family. She wanted to give a child in DHS custody the opportunity to learn about the department and see its inner workings.
“It breaks my heart when children are fearful of the police because they associate us with taking their parents away from them or taking them away from their parents,” said May. “Being able to bridge the gap with a child and show them there is no need to be afraid is an amazing process!”
“We want everyone, especially children, to feel comfortable approaching us in times of need. I think it's admirable that the Department of Human Services is reaching out in as many ways possible to spread the word about children who need a forever home. It's just a bonus that they also allowed the department I work for to help that endeavor while serving a citizen of our community.”
DHS Placement Line Supervisor Beth Reese quickly found a child in Oklahoma County who would benefit from this type of program. Andrew is a 15-year-old outgoing, athletic and studious child who has dreams of pursuing forensics and criminology at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) when he graduates from Edmond Memorial High School.
Officer May setup an exciting day for Andrew beginning with a tour of the OCPD Cadet Program at Metro Tech where young men and women from inner-city Oklahoma City schools train and gain valuable skills to enter various law enforcement professions.
Next up was the Emergency Services Unit which includes K-9, Tactical, Bomb Squad, Air Support and Hostage Negotiation. Andrew got to climb inside a BearCat tactical vehicle and watch K-9 officer, Niko, and handler Kevin Reagor perform agility, bomb detection and bite presentations. He also received a patch and coin from Bomb Squad Commander, Sgt. Jason Hodges and a coin from K-9 Titan’s handler, Sgt. Dennis Reedy.
The Air Support Unit took Andrew and his worker, Ashley Cain, on an exciting ride through Oklahoma City aboard Air 1. Andrew was able to learn about the advanced features of the Airbus AS350 B3E helicopters used by OCPD and how they are used in search and rescue and night missions, among their many other valuable capabilities.
At the OCPD downtown headquarters, Andrew was treated to a presentation and tour by Msgt. Gary Knight of the Public Information Office and an exclusive glimpse into the Intelligence and Gang Units with presentations by Officer May’s father, Lt. Stuart May and Captain James Boggess.
The day concluded with a tour and officer lineup with the Major of the Southwest Briefing Station, out of which May is officed. Officer May and MSgt. Michael Loruse presented Andrew with a hat, bracelet and coin to celebrate the day and welcome him into the OCPD family. It was truly an unforgettable day for Andrew and allowed him learning opportunities to better guide his future.
“My favorite part of the day was the helicopter ride. We saw a bald eagle flying beneath us and we flew over my house. We were also first on the scene over a large grass fire,” Andrew said.
Like too many other children and youth in Oklahoma’s foster care system, the missing piece from Andrew’s future is a family to call his own. He’s not really that picky when it comes to his ideal family, other than living in an area where he can continue attending Edmond Memorial High School. Living in this area will also make it easier for Andrew to pursue his college goals at UCO.
“I haven’t given a lot of thought yet about my ideal family. I just want to be a normal teen and keep going to my school. I’d like a relaxed, Christian family that participates in church activities and enjoys athletic activities and events.”
Andrew is an outgoing, social and athletic teen. He enjoys playing basketball and makes good grades in school – no small feat considering the several pre-AP classes he takes. He was recently selected to go to a leadership conference because of his personality, a trait that will serve him well in his law enforcement career. He is a resilient, positive and funny young man with a charming smile. He considers himself a class clown and enjoyed joking with us throughout the day. In his spare time, he enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy books. Andrew is Baptist and his faith is very important to him. He wants to continue attending services, but would be willing to go to a non-denominational church. Andrew loves Mexican food! He’s not a picky eater and tends to like healthier options.
If you’re interested in adopting Andrew, or learning more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call Collette Pendarvis at (405) 767-2993.