The Rosarito Beach area of Baja California in Mexico, once a thriving spring break locale that was decimated by crime and a collapsing economy, has had to find new, quieter ways to prosper.
A gravely ill Oakland boy fulfilled one of his dreams Thursday thanks to the Oakland Police Department as he was made an honorary officer during the OPD academy graduation ceremony.
During the moving ceremony, a number of adults who wear a badge learned a lot about bravery from the little boy.
Eight-year-old Emilio Penn has always wanted to be an Oakland police officer, the kind that chases down the bad guys and keeps the city safe
"I love Oakland," said Emilio.
Though Emilio is seriously ill, the department helped make his dream come true in a packed auditorium as Oakland Police graduated 34 new officers plus one young honorary member.
Emilio got a uniform complete with baton and badge. And a few words of encouragement from his new "boss," the Chief of Police Sean Whent.
"Emilio, we are honored by your presence, inspired by your bravery and very thankful you could share today with us," said Whent.
Emilio's parents said the young officer was a bit overwhelmed. And so were they.
"Very emotional. It's kind of like Make-a-Wish" said Emilio's mother, Berta Alicia Bejarano.
Word of Emilio's plight reached the department through the Latino Police Officers Association. The young boy has gotten to ride in a police cruiser and even spent some time at the gun range.
"For him to be part of Oakland and part of the police force is just tremendous," said Emilio's father Sasha Penn.
His mother agreed.
"He's reached that dream today. Thanks to the Oakland Police Department," said Bejarano.
When asked what the most special part of the day was, Emilio said, "When they gave me the badge."
The specially made badge has Emilio’s birth date on it.
Even if it was only ceremonial, it was still a badge of honor and courage for Oakland Police Officer Emilio Penn.
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