A 10-year-old Pearland, Texas, boy battling terminal brain cancer is the newest member of Liberty Police Department. Devarjaye “DJ” Daniel was sworn in as an honorary peace officer during a ceremony on Friday, June 10.
Since being diagnosed with terminal anaplastic ependymoma in September 2018 and initially given just months to live, Daniel, who once aspired to be a police officer, has been on a quest to be an honorary peace officer for every law enforcement agency in the United States. So far, he has sworn in with more than 560 agencies.
“We are going to keep going until his gas runs out,” said his father, Theodis Daniel. “I’ve told him, ‘You have cancer. Can we do anything to change that?’ I don’t need to constantly remind him of that. I also told him we have to figure out how he’s going to live the rest of his life.”
Believing that happiness is the key to life, the Daniel family says they will keep pushing forward with DJ. He is currently part of a trial pharmaceutical program through Baylor School of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital that may extend his life.
In his 10 years of life, he has undergone 11 brain surgeries and has a permanent drain in his brain, his father said.
His admiration for law enforcement began during Hurricane Harvey when the Daniel family was displaced by the storm to the George R. Brown Convention Center. Having only just moved to the Houston area two weeks earlier, the Daniel family found themselves in the midst of a historic storm. Theodis said there were three officers in particular who made an impression on his son.
Since his quest began, DJ has acquired a countless number of badges, challenge coins and other items from his swearing-in ceremonies. He also has received congressional citations and other mementos from members of Congress.
“He is showing the extension his hugs will go,” said Theodis.
The swearing-in ceremony at Liberty Police Department was timed with the swearing-in of new officers and promoted staff. For two years, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented celebratory swearing-in ceremonies with families. Instead, officers were sworn in by Chief Gary Martin.
“Even though they had a swearing-in with me, we like to do a swearing-in ceremony where family and friends can come and celebrate with our officers. This is not a small feat for these officers. They go through grueling background checks. They are interviewed three or four times. We go back as far as humanly possible to determine the quality of our officers,” Martin said. “Before you are some of the finest that there are [in law enforcement]. We are blessed and thankful to have them.”
Friday’s ceremony celebrated the promotions of Sgt. Christopher Watson, Cpl. Bertha Almazan and Cpl. Adam McBride, and officers Justin McGraw, Victoria Brooks, Robert Twine, Brittiany Carrier and Garland Barrett. The oaths were administered before Liberty County Justice of the Peace Stephen Hebert, who is filling in as an interim municipal judge.