21 February 2023

ACT Policing helps make a special youngster's dream come true-blue

| Sally Hopman
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Little boy in police uniform

Thanks to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation and ACT Policing, Canberra youngster William got his wish to be a policeman for the day – complete with uniform, police car and water police ride and meeting K9 colleagues. Photo: Make-A-Wish.

Two years ago, after feeling sick at school, Canberra boy William, 8, was taken to the doctor.

Doctors thought it was appendicitis. It wasn’t. It was cancer – a childhood cancer called neuroblastoma.

For William, his family and friends, it was the start of a nightmare of a journey, a time when anyone who knew William could only think, “how can this be happening to him?”

But it was. Despite extensive nuclear scanning, it was discovered that the cancer could not be removed and that he would need chemotherapy.

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By the third round, the young trooper was seriously ill, with the cancer not responding to treatment. Even though the surgeons managed to eventually remove the tumour, by May last year, William had relapsed and the cancer had spread.

Although he had more surgery in November, the treatment had not been effective.

His oncologist and family decided that the best thing for William would be to go home and live out his best days surrounded by people he loved and the many who loved him.

The strong little fighter wasn’t one to make demands, but it turns out there was one thing he dreamed about – becoming a policeman.

Enter the Make-A-Wish Foundation and ACT Policing.

If William wanted to be a policeman for a day, that’s exactly what was going to happen with all the bells, whistles and, of course, sirens blaring.

Officer-in-charge at Tuggeranong Police Station, Inspector Rod Anderson, said the minute he heard about William and his dream to be a police officer for a day, it was on.

Boy with K9 police squad.

One of the highlights of his day as Junior Constable William was meeting all the members of ACT Policing’s K9 Squad. Photo: Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“We were never not going to do this,” Inspector Anderson, who took part in the day with William, said. “There was no stage we were ever going to say no.”

Police volunteers, at very short notice, made up a uniform for William.

“We had to find an eight-year-old as a model because, of course, none of our uniforms were that small,” Inspector Anderson said. “We also got him a proper badge with ‘Junior Constable William’ on it.”

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Prior to his day on the beat, ACT Policing sent the new recruit a training package, getting him up to speed on everything he’d need to know: from forensics to taking fingerprints to the K-9 unit and water police.

With Inspector Anderson available for backup nearby if needed in an unmarked police vehicle, Junior Constable William went with Tuggeranong’s Constable Sam Weick and off on their first job when it came through the radio – a bag theft.

Water Police

When the alleged “offender” took to Canberra’s high seas, well, at least Lake Burley Griffin, the Water Police, with new recruit Junior Constable William and a friend were right in the middle of the action. Photo: Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The two arrived at the crime scene, where they collected evidence and dusted for fingerprints when suddenly the car, in which the suspect was allegedly last seen, was spotted ‘speeding’ down the road. They chased it down, but it turned out it wasn’t the offender – so the driver was let off with a warning. (Don’t worry the “chase” was carried out in a controlled setting at the Majura Park Police Complex.)

But the trail was still warm, thanks to the K9 squad, and soon a call came in from the Water Police – the alleged offender was in a boat on the water with the stolen goods. They needed assistance, the best available, so of course, Constables William and Sam came to the rescue.

The bad guy was caught and secured in handcuffs, and the good guys were back at the station being congratulated for their efforts.

Constable Wiliam returned the stolen goods to the station’s officer-in-charge Inspector Rod Anderson who told him policing was not always just about catching the bad guys – it also had a lot to do with giving back to the community.

Young William was then presented with a special certificate of bravery.

“It was one of those days,” Inspector Anderson said, “whether you’re in the police or not, you couldn’t be prouder of the character of the people you work with.”

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Although he described it as a special day, Inspector Anderson said, at times, it wasn’t easy.

“I’ll just say that I had my sunglasses on for most of that day,” he said.

When the Canberra Notice Board group posted William’s story on Monday, thousands of people praised all involved for making the young man’s day so special.

As one read: “Put a lump in my throat – what a truly wonderful day for this young man to treasure. All those involved in the planning and execution and befriending can hold your heads high – you’ve not only created this wonderful experience for William but also a lasting memory for his mother as well.”

A Go-Fund-Me campaign has been set up for William. The target of $30,000 has almost been reached, but donations are still welcome.

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My experience of ACT Policing’s members is that they do their job consistently fairly, and calmly.

While I’ve had one unpleasant and bossy experience with one somewhat fascist young Senior Constable, who eventually let me continue my car trip.

And, whence out of his sight, I kept on flashing my head-lights to save foks a speeding fine, 😉 Which I still view as a kind of social aid! Let alone a mutual road-safety thing!

Other-wise my overall experience of ACT Policing is pretty good!

When I was an an occupant of one of Canberra’s government hostels for young public servants – I got to know quite a few police, and have a good opinion of almost all of them – by memory!

I am a former Company Sergeant Major of Infantry and I can still tell the difference. ? Between authoritarian-ism and road-safety as a vital social aim!

BSEG

TIA
Timothy Bailey

Heartwarming to hear these stories. All strength to William and his family.

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