Jun. 11—For the longest time, Cooper Craig has dreamt of suiting up and sporting a badge like his heroes. Then in October 2020, Cooper Craig was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia — a type of blood and bone marrow cancer — he was six years old at the time. Though the past months have had their ups and downs, young Craig's eyes lit up on Thursday after he was fitted with his very own navy uniform, silver badge and duty belt, before being sworn in by Mayor Scott Decker as a newest member of the Dickinson Police Department.
The Dickinson Police Department invited Cooper Craig out to the station along with his family to make his wish of becoming a police officer come true. With the help of Sgt. Brandon Stockie, Cpl. Jayden Peters and Make-A-Wish North Dakota, Cooper Craig spent the entire day getting a full-on tour of the police station, an official swearing in, indulging in the break room for some sprinkled donuts and a ride in the "Bearcat" S.W.A.T. vehicle.
The law enforcement experience didn't stop there though, as Craig would assist officers in a traffic stop where he ticketed his teacher for driving 30 mph. Officer Cooper Craig also took down a bank robber, saving a couple of hostages in the process.
Wide eyes and smiles were had as Craig watched a K-9 demonstration — an emotional moment for his mother, Jenna Craig, who said she saw the light it brought to her son's face. For all involved, it was an emotional and yet inspiring day.
"(It's) great. I'm so excited he's here. He's been through a lot in the last couple of months, so it's so cool to finally see him just have a day that's all about him," Jenna Craig said, as she held back her tears of joy. "... He is on cloud nine, just having everyone around (and) his family. Just being in the building is more than enough, and (seeing) all of the police officers — it's so cool."
Cooper Craig's wish was granted at the Dickinson Noon Lions Benefit on May 22, and since then, Kelly Braun — one of Cooper Craig's volunteer wish granters — has been prepping him for his special day at the police station.
"It's an amazing day for us. It's been a long time helping work on this thing, and I'm so excited for Cooper. His day is going to be the best day he's had in a long time," Braun said. "... It gives them something to look forward to — a positive thing in their lives... in a real negative time."
Wish granters make children's wishes come true by meeting with the families and the child beforehand and sitting down with them to discuss their wish possibilities, Braun said, adding that it once the "one true wish is discovered," it goes to the main Make-A-Wish North Dakota office in Fargo and officials decide if they can make the wish a reality. Currently, the Make-A-Wish North Dakota is working on eight wishes in the southwest North Dakota region.
Cooper Craig's entire family came out to the police department to share that special moment with him, even if it meant getting handcuffed by the newest officer.
"When he was first diagnosed, they talked about Make-A-Wish and I just got that heavy feeling of like, 'No. It's not that serious.' And then I remember they put the application in (and) then he got accepted. I... kind of (got) a pit in my stomach. But now I totally get it; it even hits more close to home because a lot of those kids go through such a crappy, crappy time that it is so cool. Make-A-Wish is just about them having a day; it's not like a last wish," Jenna Craig noted.
As a police chief, Dustin Dassinger couldn't be more thrilled to have Cooper Craig down at the police department, shadowing officers and dreaming with such passion at a young age.
"In the times that we live in today, it's really rewarding. We still have young kids growing up wanting to be police officers, and today is a great day to be a resident of Dickinson and to be a member of the Dickinson Police Department," Dassinger said. "It's days like this that we really get an opportunity to give back to the community, especially to Officer Cooper Craig and his family. It feels wonderful.
"There's a lot of kids out there that are given a rough hand and if we can make things better and help the Make-A-Wish Foundation, we certainly will. Make-A-Wish Foundation makes a lot of wishes come true for a lot of kids, and we're just glad to be a part of it."
For Stockie, creating an experience that Cooper Craig will never forget was an honor.
"I think it's a big thing for any kid to want to be a cop. With all the choices he had in front of him, it's great that he picked something that we do for a living. He could have went to Disneyland or Disney World," Stockie said.
During his press conference, Cooper Craig giggled and noted that his favorite part of his day as a police officer was "arresting the robber."