Girl battling rare illness gets to be cop for a day

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Sarah-Beth Mathis served as a deputy constable for a day.

It takes a special kind of person to put on a badge and protect the community.

It's a gift not lost on nine-year-old Sarah-Beth Mathis.

"They keep our country safe," said Sarah-Beth, who on Tuesday got a chance to join their ranks as an honorary Harris County Precinct One deputy constable.

"It's just so cool because I love police officers," she told Eyewitness News, dressed in her official uniform and badge. "This is awesome. It was the best day ever."

Sarah Beth suffers from a rare genetic disorder called PTEN. She's had her colon removed. She takes dozens of doses of medication every day, and has spent much of her young life in and out of hospitals. Her illness also puts her at an extremely high risk of cancer.

But Tuesday was not about that. It was about her passion for law enforcement. Harris County Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen swore her in. She spent time with Judge Dale Gorczynski behind bench and led a motorcade.

"My favorite part was pushing the buttons and I have a full entourage of cops, my mom, it was just so cool," she said. "I got to see all of the police stuff. I got to see the courtroom. I got to see everybody and meet everybody."

Constable Rosen said he was emotional several times throughout the morning. "We see so much bad," he said of his job. "And here's a little girl whose whole desire is to be what we are today. It's just special for us."

Deputies on their own time gave her the full experience including a seat in a helicopter, a meeting with a police k-9, and let her "arrest" a "suspect in a specially constructed parking-lot traffic stop.

"It's very emotional for her to be able to do something she likes for a change," said her mother Rebecca Minyard. "We're so thankful."

The day was also about a police officer killed in the line of duty 3 years ago and a promise kept.

Precinct One Deputy Tracie Mathews-Segura used to work with Sergeant Jimmie Norman. Together, they'd planned to help children in need who idolized law enforcement. It never happened. Norman was shot and killed in the line of duty on Christmas Eve 2012.

When Deputy Mathews-Segura met Sarah-Beth, a child who loves police officers, she knew what she had to do.

"She faces challenges that we will never have to," said Mathews-Segura, fighting back tears. "And so to make her a deputy for the day is special."

Jimmie Norman's daughter, Dallas, was there too.

"It means a lot," said Norman, also a police officer. "It was something my dad and her really wanted to do. It's wonderful that she still took the time and put this together."

It was a special day...maybe as much or more for those who planned it as for the little girl they honored.

Sarah-Beth has another surgery next week to mitigate the effects of her disease. There is no known cure.

If you want to help Sarah-Beth's medical bills, there is a GoFundMe page set up.
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