Oath Taken: Brownsville boy becomes honorary police commander - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Oath Taken: Brownsville boy becomes honorary police commander

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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 9:30 pm

For the first time in the history of the Brownsville Police Department, an honorary commander was named Thursday when 6-year-old Leonardo Gael Oropeza, a leukemia survivor who is currently in remission, was sworn in.

A special ceremony was held at the police department where the oath of office was administered to the pint-sized commander. For that day, he joined 119 other officers on patrol.

Chief Felix Sauceda administered the oath and commented how truly special their newest “commanding officer” was going to be.

“We are all humbled on this special day to be able to swear in someone who epitomizes the values of the men and women of the Brownsville Police Department,” Chief Sauceda said, “and confronts adversity with such fearlessness every day.”

Leonardo, who goes by Leo, was 4 years old when he was diagnosed with Acute-Lymphoblastic Leukemia. That was Jan. 18, 2017.

“We knew something was wrong with Leo when one day, he seemed a bit moody, and looked pale,” his mother, Stephanie Oropeza, said.

“Our youngest child (Leo), who loved playing baseball, had always been so happy,” Stephanie Oropeza said. “It’s been a long journey, but Leo continues battling the disease with monthly chemo, medications, and, every three months, he undergoes a lumbar-spine procedure so that the drugs can be delivered directly into his system.

“Next March 20, we will all be celebrating the end of his treatment,” Oropeza said.

When Commander William Dietrich first met Leo last year at his school, the officer didn’t even realize that Leo was sick.

“When Leo and I originally talked, he told me he’d like to come by the police station. I figured he wanted to come by for an hour or so,” Dietrich said, “but he told me he wanted to spend the entire day with us. Leo has curiosity — a twinkle in his eye — so I just had to see what I could do to make this happen.”

Dietrich pitched the idea to Sauceda, and Oropeza said, “I am so thrilled with the entire police department for making this happen.”

As soon as Sauceda delivered the oath of office to his very determined charge, Honorary Commander Leo delivered his first order from the podium to all the officers in attendance: “Everybody get to work,” he said, “and have fun.”

After the ceremony, Leo greeted each officer, shaking each one’s hand as he stood in front of a large photo which depicted the young leader in full Brownsville Police Department uniform with a squad car in the background sporting a license plate that read “Leonardo.”

“We’re all your extended family now, Leo,” Commander Gerard Serrata said.

Special Weapons and Tactics Agent John Tamayo approached his new commander with the team’s official coin.

“Ask these officers if they have their SWAT Coin on them,” Tamayo said. “And if they don’t, they have to do 20 push-ups.”

Leo turned to the unit, and when no one presented the talisman, Leo said, “Give me 25.”

With that, the squad of SWAT officers dropped to the floor and immediately followed their young commanding officer’s orders.

sgroves@brownsvilleherald.com

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