HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The 2018 National Police Week just wrapped up. It's a time to honor the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers across the nation. In Huntsville, one little boy thinks about those brave men and women every day. Just call him "Officer Noah."
Noah Harrell is like any other five-year-old. He loves to play. But he has an unusual hobby. He’s collecting patches from police departments, sheriff’s offices and other law enforcement agencies across the country. So far, he has 29 patches from 14 states. And his collection is growing. He keeps them in what he calls his Police Officers Support Book. He even has one from the New York Police Department Bomb Squad.
It all started a year and a half ago when his grandfather, who works with law enforcement agencies across the nation, went on a trip. “Noah would not ask for a toy or anything,” his mother Brittany told us. “He would ask for a patch.” And when he gets a new one, he doesn’t immediately add it to his book. “He’ll hold it for the longest time and take it everywhere and tell everybody about it,” Brittany said.
Noah’s tells me his favorite patch is, “HPD.” That’s because it came from his dad’s uniform. “Uh huh, but he let me keep it,” Noah said. Noah loves his patch collection but he’s even more proud of his dad. He showed me a photo and proudly said, “That's me and my daddy from last year.” And he wants to follow in his daddy’s footsteps. “Him saying he wants to be like me obviously is awesome,” Gabriel Harrell said with a smile.
Noah knows his dad and other officers have a dangerous job. He’s always asking his father if he arrested any bad guys when he comes home from his shift. “He said yes and then he said but don’t worry about that,” Noah told me. But he does worry.
Before his dad goes to work, Noah reminds him daily. He tells him to “Be careful, love you, bye. Be careful.” And does it every day. “Every time before I walk out the door,” Gabriel said, “And I mean, it gets me every time.” Words of encouragement from a child to his father. “He'll tell me that he loves me and he'll always say good guys win, bad guys lose,” Gabriel added. “He'll give me thumbs up and that's the last thing I see.”
Brittany recalls what Noah said one day when her husband was leaving for work. “He said daddy, don't forget us, you have to come home,” she remembers. “And we were outside and he was getting into his cop car to leave and immediately, he teared up.” Who wouldn’t? “I teared up really well but I was smiling at the same time,” she added. “Those moments, you want to keep forever.”
Noah's dad buys extra HPD patches so when the family goes on a trip, they'll call ahead and see if any law enforcement officers in the area where they’re travelling want to trade. They’ll make stops along the way. If you know anyone who might be willing to trade a patch with Noah, email Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try to make that happen.