Cedar Hill, TX - It was past 3 in the morning when Ah'Maya Terrell of Cedar Hill heard the odd noises outside her bedroom window. When a peek outside revealed four strangers hovering around her grandfather's truck, she didn't duck under the covers or run off and hide in the closet.
She got up and woke up her grandpa so he could call the police.
At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, the Cedar Hill Police Department honored the 4-year-old as its "Police Chief for a Day" for her gumshoe gumption on that cold January morning, when she was just 3.
Incoming Police Chief Ely Reyes presented Ah'Maya with an honorary certificate as his department called on the city "to recognize her unique abilities, remarkable thinking and courageous action."
Four-year-old Ah'Maya Terrell was flanked by Lt. John Densmore and Cpl. Kristine Hill during a tour of the Cedar Hill Police Department on March 26, 2019. At the City Council meeting, she was designated "chief for a day." (Daniel Carde/Staff Photographer)
Ah'Maya had dressed for the occasion, in a wee, custom-fit, button-down police uniform bearing the title of "Chief A. Terrell" and a police whistle slung over her shoulder. Earlier, she and her grandmother had been treated to a tour of the Cedar Hill police station, where she got to sit in the police chief's chair and later, in her first official act, decreed that the night crew could go home early.
Then came Tuesday night's presentation at the City Council meeting, where she stood dutifully by her grandfather, Derek Hollands, as Reyes also presented her with a cuddly police bear.
"Everybody knows a police officer needs backup," said Reyes, who will begin his duties Monday.
Attendees cheered when told of Ah'Maya's initiative in the early morning hours of Jan. 30 — how she first went to another room, where a security camera monitor showed the suspects trying to break into the truck. And how she immediately roused her grandfather and set off a chain of events that would have resonance beyond her front yard.
Officers responding to the call of a burglary in progress eventually found and detained the four adult suspects, who were ultimately linked to nine separate criminal offenses in the city including burglary of a habitation, theft of a firearm and seven charges of burglarizing vehicles.
The officers praised Ah'Maya as "unusually brave for a 3-year-old child" and for responding calmly as the crime unfolded. And when detectives conducting a follow-up investigation found out that she had talked to her grandparents about someday being a police officer or even police chief, plans for Tuesday's recognition were set in motion.
"Good girl," her beaming grandmother said as she clapped. "I'm proud of you."
Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear tiny police uniforms.
Source: Dallas Morning News