Anthony Bentley raised his right hand before Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz on Wednesday and took the first oath of his life — to always listen to his parents, play nicely with his friends, always eat his vegetables and be a good boy.
With that, Katz made the 3-year-old an honorable junior officer with the police department, fulfilling a life-long dream for the West Palm Beach boy who for much of his short life has been fighting a severe form of cancer.
Bentley, dressed to impress with a plaid, button-down shirt, jeans and trendy All-Star sneakers, pet two of the department’s police dogs, boarded a black SWAT truck and even pushed the lights and sirens button in an unmarked police vehicle. To wrap up his tour, the boy and his family took a ride on one of Boynton Beach’s patrol SUVs.
“We are very excited and very thankful,” said Bentley’s father Jason Bentley, who said his son has always shown great interest in all things police, including loud sirens and guns.
His mother Shem Dixon said she’s glad her only son was able to get out of the hospital and enjoy a day outdoors with his favorite superheroes. Diagnosed with neuroblastoma, Anthony has spent many weeks in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy to attack a cancerous tumor in his neck.
The visit to the police department was scheduled two weeks ago, but Anthony fell ill and into the hospital for several days, Jason Bentley said.
“This makes him feel really good. He spends so much time at the hospital with the chemo,” Shem Dixon said.
Dixon said that while a recent MRI showed Anthony was cancer-free, he must continue with the chemotherapy.
At the police department, several crime prevention, K-9 and SWAT officers joined Anthony and his family on the tour of the department. The boy took home numerous T-shirts, a sweater and even a police badge.
Police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said police officials were told about Anthony’s love of law enforcement through a friend of an officer, and it was decided that Anthony should be granted his wish.
“He is our hero,” Slater said. “He is 3 years old and he is fighting a very serious illness. In our eyes, that’s a hero and that takes courage.”