BRIDGEPORT — David Juarez has survived an intense round of cancer treatment.
Now, the 3-year-old boy is ready to protect and serve.
Wednesday morning, through a partnership between the Chicago Police Department and the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson swore in the Belmont Cragin boy as a Chicago Police Officer.
Among family and officers at Public Safety Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave., the boy raised his hand to accept the official police oath.
“Do you solemnly swear that you will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of Illinois, and that you will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Police Officer, according to the best of your abilities?” Johnson asked. “Do you accept?”
With encouragement from the crowd, David accepted.
Johnson put a badge around the boy’s neck and gave him a certificate recognizing his appointment as a Chicago Police officer.
As newest recruit, the boy gave a salute. Family, friends and police personnel clapped and cheered.
Diagnosed in April 2015, the Belmont Cragin boy suffered from neuroblastoma, a rare nerve cancer that develops in infants and children.
Chemotherapy seemed to stave off a tumor that formed near his kidney and spine — until March of this year, when he ended up in surgery at Lurie Children's Hospital.
The tumors are gone, but symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite and fever remain, according to David's mother, Daisy Santillan.
She fought back tears watching her boy named a Chicago Police officer.
"It's good to see him like this after all he's been through," Santillan said. "It's very emotional."
Asked how it feels to be a police officer, David had one word to describe the honor:
"Good," he said.
Supt. Johnson there was no question whether David would make a good officer.
“I mean, look at his face,” Johnson said. “That tells it all right there. He loves the color blue, right David? He’s always wanted to be a police officer. He thinks police officers make the world a better place to be so we had no choice but to accept him into the ranks of the Chicago Police. … And we’re happy to have him.”
After the ceremony, friends, family and officers drove to McCormick Place, where Chicago Police officers gave David and introduction to the tools of the trade.
“He told us that he wanted to be a police officer,” said Jessica Miller, communications manager for Make-A-Wish Illinois. “The Chicago Police Department has been a great friend to us … They have really pulled out all the stops for David today.”
David learned about police dogs and horses and got to sit in the driver's seat of a Chicago Police SWAT Humvee. He held a (toy) assault rifle and received two bags of gifts from a police robot.
The new recruit then got a chance to test his policing skills against a cat burglar, a raccoon bandit, a reptilian thief, werewolf and dinosaur.
After recovering some stolen cash and jewelry from the pack of swindlers, David reflected on his first adventure as a cop:
"The monsters got the monies and want to catch me!"
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