Every once in a while a young person enters your life and, in so doing, leaves an indelible impression that changes your outlook and challenges you to be a better you. For the men and women of the Boston Police Department, that person was 6-year-old Devin Suau.
Many of us met Devin for the first time several months ago at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston on March 19, 2017. Prior to the parade, we became aware of his story when his uncle, Officer Justin Cremins, an 11-year-veteran of the BPD, approached the Commissioner with a favor to ask. His nephew Devin had recently been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, a rare type of cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), and because Devin's prognosis wasn't positive, he was wondering if there was something the department could do to help raise the young boy's spirits. Raising awareness about Devin's disease, he said, would be wonderful, but more to the point, he wondered, given Devin's love of law enforcement, if there was something that we could do to make Devin feel like a real-life police officer. Nothing more needed to be said. Eager to deliver a day Devin would not soon forget, Commissioner Evans and Mayor Walsh moved quickly to appoint Devin both an honorary member of the Boston Police Department and Grand Marshall of the St Patty's Day Parade. In light of his new positions, as honorary Top Cop and Grand Marshall, Devin would, of course, be required to ride front and center in the parade's lead car which just to happened to be the BPD's SWAT Truck, affectionately nicknamed "The Bear." Moreover, prior to the start of the parade, in keeping with his new found duties as an honorary Top Cop, Devin was asked to address the officers at roll call. And, without so much as a moment's hesitation, Devin promptly and professionally told the officers:
"Stay safe. And, be careful not to get eaten by a bear." Lucky for us, the only bear seen that day was the SWAT Truck that chauffeured Devin during the parade.
Suffice to say, the day went off without a hitch and for many of our officers seeing the little boy in the little blue police uniform sitting atop our SWAT Truck with a smile stretching from ear to ear most certainly made for a memory that will not soon be forgotten. His family later said that day may have been one of Devin's best days, and the pictures taken would certainly affirm that. In truth, it may have been one of our best days, as well.
Devin passed away Friday, October 20, 2017. He was 6-years-old. As you can imagine, news of Devin's passing was met with great sadness and sorrow. But given the indisputable fact that there's assuredly a special place in heaven for police officers (especially the honorary ones), we're quite certain Devin's watching overall of us now.
To learn more about Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, please visit: http://www.danafarberbostonchildrens.org/conditions/brain-tumor/diffuse-pontine-glioma.aspx