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Devin Brown, 7, of McKeesport is introduced to K9 Officer Ryco by his handler, police Sgt. Fran Angert, as his mom, Heather Nelson, looks on. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
A second-grader at Propel McKeesport surprised city police on Saturday morning with 47 custom-ordered face masks.
Devin Brown, 7, of McKeesport, has admired police officers since an incident at a Greensburg diner, said his mother, Heather Nelson.
A Pennsylvania state trooper stopped in to eat lunch and gave Devin a “junior trooper” sticker badge. “Ever since then, he’s wanted to be a policeman when he grows up,” Nelson said. Devin has plastic handcuffs and plays with his pretend police toys all the time, she said.
McKeesport police Chief Adam Alfer presents Devin Brown with blue wrist bands and other souvenirs as parents Heather Nelson and Reggie Brown watch. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
“I try to teach my children what’s right,” Nelson said. “In a time when it’s difficult for police, I want my kids to understand the police are here to protect us and they are appreciated.”
The idea of custom face masks for McKeesport police officers was initiated when Devin thought it would be fun to give all of the officers masks like his favorite dinosaur print. His mother agreed it was a great idea, but talked him into a custom design by Windy City Leggings.
Devin wanted to earn the money to pay for the masks himself, Nelson said, so he did extra chores, including taking out the trash for his own family, his grandmother and a neighbor, but at age 7, it was difficult for him to earn enough. Nelson said she pitched in the difference.
She also circulated a letter requesting donations and received an unexpected response. Minerva’s Bakery donated a cake, Sun Coach Lines donated money to purchase food from DeCarlo’s Market and Tube City Distributing Co. donated beverages so police officers could have lunch with Devin.
Elder Jerod Hill from The Source Church, West Mifflin, presented a prayer before eating.
The police department’s four K9 officers were given gifts as well. An anonymous contributor donated Blue brand biscuits and squeaky toys for the dogs.
From left, McKeesport City Administrator Tom Maglicco, Mayor Mike Cherepko, police Chief Adam Alfer, Devin Brown, Heather Nelson, Reggie Brown, and assistant police Chief Mark Steele. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
Vickie Babyak is a photographer and freelance writer from Dravosburg. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published October 25, 2020.