Nine-year-old Arnez Logan, a student of Duquesne Elementary School, is a member of the school's Junior Constable program, run by school security officer and Pennsylvania State Constable Lonzo Boyce Sr., at left. (Cami DiBattista photo, special to Tube City Almanac)
When fourth-grader Arnez Logan began the school year at Duquesne Elementary, he had no idea he would wrap up his first week being labeled a hero.
As a participant in the school’s Junior Constable Program, one of his responsibilities includes being a member of the "safety patrol." Logan was stationed outside the entrance of the school, diligently observing his surroundings, when he saw a kindergarten student run out into the road in front of an oncoming car.
Without a second thought he reacted, grabbing the kindergartener and pulling him to safety as the car sped by.
“He was running and it did not look like he was going to stop,” said nine-year-old Logan. “I hurried up and pulled him back before a car came speeding by.”
“I was across the street and couldn’t get there quickly enough,” said Duquesne constable Lonzo Boyce Sr., who started the Junior Constable Program around five years ago. “It was like it happened in slow motion. As soon as he stepped onto the street, Arnez grabbed him. ‘Nice save, Arnez. Great job,’ was the first thing that came out of my mouth. It was unbelievable.”
Boyce said Logan has received several awards for his heroic act and has been nominated for a national Lifesaver of the Year award from the national motorists association AAA, which offers a training course for students who wish to act as safety patrollers.
Stanley B. Whiteman III, the Duquesne City School District's director of curriculum, instruction, assessment, technology and LEA, called Logan a "conscientious student who takes his role on the safety team seriously."
“The Duquesne City School District is very proud of Arnez’s heroic efforts,” said “In a situation like the one he experienced, either you define the moment or the moment will define you. Arnez stepped up and defined the moment and prevented a fellow student from being seriously injured or worse."
In a moment of "near tragedy," Whiteman said, Logan "relied on his training from Officer Lonzo Boyce and acted quickly to save a student from stepping out into traffic.”
Logan was promoted to lieutenant of the Junior Constable program for his brave action and given a badge, which, he said, “I always wear when I do the safety program.”
Logan has made quite an impression around town and his mother, Sharae Matthews said after the incident neighbors would often stop her in the streets to talk about her son’s heroic action.
“It was a great feeling,” Matthews said. “I’m very proud of Arnez’s quick actions that day. We need more cautious people in this world.”
Arnez Logan, 9, is a member of Duquesne Elementary School's Junior Constable program, run by school security officer and Pennsylvania State Constable Lonzo Boyce Sr., right. Boyce was recognized with a national award for initiating the cadet program at Duquesne Elementary. (Cami DiBattista photo, special to Tube City Almanac)
A Pennsylvania state constable in Wilkinsburg and the school’s security patrolman, Boyce said he began the Junior Constable’s program as a way to instill good values in local youth.
“The program is based on leadership, responsibility, honesty and integrity,” Boyce said. “The kids come to realize these are qualities that you need to carry through life to succeed.”
The program is based on the fundamentals of what Boyce does as a state constable, he said. Duties include providing services such as escorting other students and visitors through the school, delivering papers, decorating for school dances, helping deliver food for the weekly backpack distribution program, making ice packs for the nurse’s office and other helpful duties.
Around 40 students are currently participating in the program, and were sworn in by Magisterial District Judge Scott Schricker in Turtle Creek during an oath ceremony several weeks ago. Boyce said each year he has a ceremony for the new cadets and then hosts a peace officer memorial dinner for the students and their families.
Local law enforcement officers --- security, constables and police --- as well as members of the military are invited to attend and interact with the cadets.
“I think it’s a relationship that’s needed in the community for this type of program,” said Boyce, who has been a state constable for 15 years. “Kids need to see that law enforcement is there to help and law enforcement needs to know that kids look up to them and aspire to be like them. Community and law enforcement go together. My goal is to bring everyone together.”
The Duquesne Junior Constable program is the first cadet program of its kind in the area. In 2017, Boyce was recognized by the National Association of School Resource Officers in Washington, D.C., with its Regional Exceptional Service Award for creating and maintaining the program.
This is the second year Boyce has offered the opportunity for the cadets to do double duty as safety patrol officers. He said a similar school safety patrol program existed when he was a student in the Duquesne district and he decided to bring it back.
Training to participate in the safety patrol program includes watching a 20-minute instructional video by AAA on rules and expectations and passing a true-false test.
Boyce said the program has been a success and he hopes the program will continue on whether he is still with the district or not.
“The kids are so dedicated,” he said. “They show up every day, even in extreme weather. The cadets in this year’s club are amazing.”
Logan said he decided to join the Junior Constable program because it seemed like fun.
“I get to help kids cross the street and make sure they’re safe," he said. "I like being a cadet and escorting students through the school and making ice packs for the nurse’s office. It’s fun and it’s an important job. Officer Boyce teaches us to be safe, be positive, work hard, and set a good example.”
“A lot of times when we think about heroes, military members, firefighters and police officers come to mind, but never a kid,” said Boyce. “We don’t think of a hero as being an everyday nine-year-old kid. I’m very, very proud of Arnez.”
Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer who covers municipal news from Duquesne, White Oak and other subjects for Tube City Almanac. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published December 18, 2018.