Special-needs teen’s wish granted by Suffolk County Police Department

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“Having my son’s Christmas wish be granted has restored my faith in the holiday,” said proud Bayport mom Laura Slager of her son Jacob’s recent fun run-in with the law.

The Suffolk County Police Department met Jacob Slager at his home on Oakwood Avenue in Bayport on Thursday morning, Dec. 16, with Officer Santa ready to bring him to his school in Bellport in a police cruiser.

Jacob, a special-needs 16-year-old who is minimally verbal and uses a communication device when his speech is unintelligible, clearly expressed his love of police after he and his mother were stranded in Connecticut after a ferry was cancelled and the local police department helped them get home.

“He’s always been into military functions and dress, but now he has had such an interest in police, especially their cars,” said Slager.

In the Slager household, police officer shows like “Wildest Chases” are always on for Jacob, who wears his grandfather’s security coat as a badge of honor.

Earlier this year, Laura Slager posted a video to Facebook where Jacob expressed his wish for a ride to school in a police car, mostly ecstatic at how clearly and visibly Jacob was able to make his thoughts known.

Eventually, Laura was connected to a New York Police Department charity that works to help those with special needs, With Arms Wide Open, who were keen on granting Jacob’s wish.

Officer Merritt Riley of the NYPD, who leads the charity, contacted Suffolk County Police Department, who were able to arrange for Santa to visit and bring Jacob to his school.

The night before the event, a member of SCPD dropped off a sweatshirt and hat, donated by Brothers in Farmingville, with the SCPD logos for Jacob to wear, albeit he was unaware what the special clothes were for.

The morning of the ride, three police cars came to Jacob’s home with full lights and sirens on, with Santa in the lead (in the role of Santa was a detective from the 5th Precinct, which covers Jacob’s neighborhood).

Giving Santa a warm and joyous hug, Jacob said he would love to be in the police cruiser and smiled when he was told, “Santa likes to go fast.”

In fact, so fast that Jacob’s mom was unable to keep up with the police cruiser, fearing a ticket.

Unfazed by the half-dozen phone cameras taping the event, Jacob made his way to the front of the police SUV and went to school, where With Arms Wide Open sponsored a bagel breakfast for his class.

Upon arrival at the school, Santa told Jacob’s teacher to “freeze!” which his class thoroughly enjoyed.

“When you have a son who is non-verbal express their wish, especially knowing he won’t be doing the typical things a teenager his age does like go on a first date or get a license, it’s a dream come true for the handicapped,” said Laura Slager.

Laura also spoke of how welcoming and supportive the Bayport-Blue Point School District and community have been of Jacob, referring to him as “the Mayor of Bayport.”

“He felt like a mini movie star today,” Laura said of the ride with Officer Santa, “and this is a child who wants for nothing more than a burger at Momo’s Too on a Friday night.”

Officer Eileen Emiddio, who runs the Community Relations Department for SCPD, said when they were contacted by With Arms Wide Open, they couldn’t wait to fulfill Jacob’s wish.

Emiddio coordinated the gifts for Jabob, which included the sweatshirt and hat and a die-cast police car inscribed “P.O. Jacob,” and the 508 license plate (the patrol car of Jacob’s neighborhood) valued at $75, donated by Cop Shop in Massapequa.

“Events like these are to help everyone, especially those with special needs, be more trusting of the police by having good experiences with officers,” said Emiddio.

Of the detective who played Santa, Emiddio said, “It’s his heart that makes him a great Saint Nick.”

The video of Jacob with Santa posted on Suffolk County News’ Facebook page was one of the most popular and most shared in the history of the account. 

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