Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In Spirit of Season, Police Salute Ill Boy Youngster Relishes Day as E. St. Louis `Captain'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In Spirit of Season, Police Salute Ill Boy Youngster Relishes Day as E. St. Louis `Captain'

Article excerpt

IN THE FIRST SIX years of his life, Andre Quarrels has had two heart operations. To stay alive, he needs regular blood transfusions and he's hooked up to intravenous tubes for eight hours a day.

Andre has spent the past two Christmases in a hospital room. But this Christmas was different.

Andre had one wish: to become a police officer.

Just in time for Christmas, the East St. Louis Police Department played Santa and made that wish come true. Moreover, the officers made him the force's only police captain.

In the rotunda of East St. Louis City Hall, the men and women of the police force marched by. Each saluted Andre. Andre stood as tall as he could - 30-something inches in all - and he returned the salutes.

He wore his crisp blue shirt with gleaming silver captain's bars on the collar and a golden badge on his chest. His belt was clasped around his size-6 starched navy police pants, which just covered his shiny new shoes.

Escorted by the anti-drug Delta Team, Andre arrived in a police squad car with sirens sounding and lights flashing. The first-grader at William Holliday School radioed to the department, and all the officers on duty acknowledged his ten-four. From the door to the ceremony stage, he walked between two lines of police officers standing at attention.

With a tiny voice and a big heart, Andre repeated the police officers' oath after Mayor Gordon D. Bush. "I will enforce the laws of this great city of East St. Louis . . .," he said to the cheering crowds.

"So help me God . . .," he said.

He sat beside Police Chief Isadore Chambers.

"It's great," Andre said later with wide-eyed wonder showing through the big glasses he wears on his face. The 46-pound new captain shook hands with everyone he could.

On such a little boy, the green-and-blue East St. Louis Police Department patch on his sleeve stretched from his shoulder to his elbow.

"We were crying," said Police Detective James Mister.

A few months ago, Andre, his mother and sister, Shanae, lost everything they had when their house in the Park Side neighborhood of East St. …

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