Joey Fabus' parents say he loves police officers. And garbage collectors.
It was the Bethel Park Police Department who made the 8-year-old, who has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, an honorary member on Tuesday.
When Community Police Officer Tom Rigetti learned of Joey's situation, he worked with the boy's family and Chief John Mackey to make Joey an honorary officer for a day. The role was made complete with a uniform, badge and handcuffs.
"We're just trying to give him the best life possible right now," said Joey's mother, Cindy.
Family and friends wore camouflage T-shirts for "Little Joey's Army," a charity started by his godmother, Jessica Rosser of Dormont, to help the family while Joey's father, David, stays home from work to care for him and take him to radiation treatments.
They followed and filmed him throughout the day, along with police officers from Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair. Many were there on their time off to support Joey.
"I feel safer now that you're part of our police department," said Magisterial District Judge Ron Arnoni, who swore Joey in as an officer. Arnoni, a former investigator for the state Office of Attorney General, gave the newest officer a pair of his old handcuffs and a model police car, and later let Joey pose for pictures wearing his judge's robes.
After being sworn in, Joey rode in Rigetti's patrol car with his parents, working the lights and sirens, and pulling over Rigetti's daughter, Mia, 19, for allegedly running a stop sign in front of the municipal building.
Joey took Mia's license and registration, and filled out a traffic citation, then went back to the district judge's office. He testified, recommending that the citation be dismissed because Mia was polite and apologetic.
"We saw somebody who ran a stop sign," Joey said. "We pulled her over, gave her a ticket, but then we let her go."
His parents initially were worried about Joey getting too tired to make it through the afternoon of activities, but he grinned through everything and continued onward.
"He just keeps going, and hopefully he's going to keep on going," Rigetti said.
After a little more riding in the patrol car, he strode through the door of the Bethel Park Community Center to perform a "safety patrol." He was met with more supporters' applause, then a proclamation from Bethel Park Mayor Jack Allen that Tuesday was Joey Fabus Day.
In addition to Tuesday's activities, Little Joey's Army arranged for him to ride in the Dormont Memorial Day Parade in a rented Camaro, organized a charity golf outing for the family's benefit on June 22 and is holding a charity concert with the Justin Fabus Band on July 19 at the Crowne Plaza in Bethel Park.
"It's amazing, the amount of support we've gotten from the entire (Bethel Park police) department," said Joseph Fabus, Joey's uncle and a Pittsburgh police detective. "We talk a great deal about brotherhood, and that's what this is about today."
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or [email protected].
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