Freshman Zachary Stumpf got to see Wood River police in action Aug. 29 with as a junior K9 officer through Make-A-Wish Illinois.
The organization gave Stumpf a rare look inside the police department’s day-to-day operations and K9 Officer Michael Young in action with his canine companion, Degen.
“I’ve tried to make it to Disneyland twice,” Stumpf said. “One attempt I actually made it to California and then I got sick and had to spend the whole time in the hospital there. It’s really awesome that the police officers are giving me a day like today. I’m a little nervous, but it’s fun to look forward to something.”
Stumpf has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a disease that invades the blood and can spread to the liver, spleen and lymph nodes.
Young arranged a series of scenarios with the help of off-duty officers to show Stumpf how the K9 unit operates on the street. The scenarios included K9 Degen searching a vehicle for drugs and alerting when the scent was located, chasing a suspect running from the scene in full bite protection gear and entering a vehicle to apprehend a suspect. An ARCH Air Medical Services helicopter made a surprise visit with the Wood River Fire Department’s assistance.
“Zach doesn’t get a chance to be an average kid,” his mother, Jennifer Stumpf, said. “With the treatments he’s had over the last two years, he’s spent a lot of time on the couch. A big part of his childhood has been taken by this cancer.
“It’s amazing all the people that took their day off to give my son one special day.”
Zach learned the elements of the controls in the squad car, how to use the radio and was loaned a bulletproof vest and a duty belt. He also was given a personalized polo shirt with the police department’s logo.