A 10-year-old student at an Albuquerque elementary school has a new definition of a “hero” after an Albuquerque Police officer stepped up and helped him on Halloween.
“I went to the school and as soon as I got on campus, the children were asking me if it was my costume or if I’m really a cop,” Sgt. Nick Wheeler with APD said.
On a whim, Sgt. Wheeler volunteered at the Marie Hughes Elementary School Halloween parade on Wednesday after his wife and her family member, who works at the school, invited him.
It ended up being a great idea.
“While I was standing there, I seen two little children. I think they were 8 or 9 walking by, and one of the kids turned to a kid and he said, ‘I’m sorry your mom didn’t have money to buy you a costume.'” Sgt. Wheeler said. “So it broke my heart, and I called the teacher back and asked her, ‘Did I hear that right?’ and she said ‘Yes, you did,’ so I called the little boy to me and I said, ‘Come with me to my police car.'”
Sgt. Wheeler suited up the fifth grader, who was one of few costume-less kids, in his tactical vest and Kevlar helmet. Of course, he took a lot of stuff out of the vest, first.
“And I said ‘That’s all I’ve got but you can be the police for the day,'” Sgt. Wheeler said.
Sgt. Wheeler says the 10-year-old hugged him, high-fived him and thanked him over and over. The 11-year vet of APD knew going to school in uniform could help with police-community relations, but he probably didn’t expect to leave the impression he did.
“It feels good. I mean, it’s all about building trust in the community and it starts with the children because they’re our future.”
APD posted the photos of Sgt. Wheeler and the boy on social media, where it’s gotten a lot of attention. Even Mayor Tim Keller praised the officer, re-sharing the post.