Officer Brian Terrell, age 8

September 24, 1998|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Since he was 3, Brian Terrell has idealized police officers and aspired to become one. Yesterday, he got his wish.

Brian, 8, became an honorary Baltimore City police officer at Johns Hopkins Children's Center with the help of the Police Department and the Grant-A-Wish Foundation. Before more than dozen officers, Brian, who has been diagnosed with life-threatening hepatitis C, was inducted into the department by Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier.

Brian said little, but recited the officer's pledge and saluted the commissioner.

Grant-A-Wish officials say Brian is the first client in the country who wanted to become a police officer since the organization started in 1982.

The boy's mother, Robin Terrell, said he has always wanted to be a police officer. Unsure of Brian's future, Terrell said, she was glad he could realize his biggest dream.

"The whole thing here is that we're trying to bring Brian's adulthood to his childhood," she said.

Brian, who lives in Pasadena, was diagnosed with the disease, which attacks the liver, at age 3. He's had three liver transplants since then, the most recent in mid-August, his mother said. He's been in Johns Hopkins since mid-July.

Learning of his love for police from Grant-A-Wish, which fulfills the wishes of children with life-threatening diseases, several city police officers began visiting Brian in the hospital.

Robin Terrell said they'd walk him around the ward and put him through the department's application process, which included taking fingerprints, conducting interviews and running a background check.

And with each visit, Robin Terrell said, the officers brought Brian police gear, such as a fitted uniform, helmet and boots.

"He thinks policemen are movie stars. When he sees one, he'll ask for an autograph or a pen," Robin Terrell said. "He always lights up when they are around."

Police Lt. Charles Gutberlet, who orchestrates many of the hospital visits, said the motorcycle squad was more than happy to make Brian's wish come true.

"We took it as an honor that this little boy wanted to do something we do every day," Gutberlet said. "And, this isn't going to be a one-shot deal."

Gutberlet said they plan to escort Brian home when he's released from the hospital and will give him a tour of police facilities. "He'll be welcome at the station anytime," Gutberlet said.

Pub Date: 9/24/98

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