Jackson Keefe appeared nervous Tuesday as he stood in the lobby of the Palmetto Police Department station. Over the weekend, the 10-year-old Parrish boy had stopped by the station with his mother, Tarrah Keefe, to deliver 20 thank-you cards for officers. Jackson also delivered more to law enforcement officers in his neighborhood.
The cards in marker on orange paper read: “Thank you for all you do!”
Inside, Jackson wrote “Love, Jackson Keefe, Parrish, Fl.”
“I knew that the five officers died in Dallas, so it made me want to make cards for them,” Jackson said. “When I gave the cards to the police officers, I saw their face and it made me feel really good. ... Well, they smiled and they said, ‘Thank you.’”
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The boy’s kind gesture deeply touched Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler, who was scheduled to meet Jackson to thank him Tuesday afternoon. The boy waited several minutes past 2 p.m. along with his mother and father, Danniel Keefe. Jackson’s grandmother, Shirley Milton, and younger brother, Cooper, were also there.
I knew that the five officers died in Dallas, so it made me want to make cards for them. When I gave the cards to the police officers, I saw their face and it made me feel really good... they smiled and they said ‘thank you.’
Jackson Keefe, who wrote letters of appreciation to Palmetto police and officers in his Parrish neighborhood
“I’m Chief Tyler. You can call me Scott,” Tyler said to Jackson after emerging from another room.
He bent down to shake Jackson’s hand and told the boy it was very nice to meet him.
“Nice to meet you, too,” Jackson said shyly, looking over at his mother who captured the warm moment on her phone.
As a token of appreciation, Tyler gave Jackson an official police cap and a mug. With a shiny lapel pin, Tyler also swore the boy in as “an official young police helper.” Tyler’s impromptu oath made Jackson promise to obey Mom and Dad, do the best he can in school, and do his best to take care of younger brother, “Super Cooper.”
It really means a lot to the police officers to hear that they’re appreciated. Law enforcement is a profession where you don’t get a pat on the back everyday.
Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler
“It really touched me, but it touched all the officers, too,” Tyler said of Jackson’s thank-you cards. “He made quite a few cards, and pretty well each officer got one, and I know the cards are showing up in people’s bulletin boards and I know they’re showing up in the patrol cars. It just meant so much. ... it was a gesture of pure kindness from this young boy to do that.”
The Palmetto police chief said the agency has had a tremendous outpouring of support from the community after the tragedy in Dallas. The officers killed were: Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa.
“It really means a lot to the police officers to hear that they’re appreciated,” Tyler said. “Law enforcement is a profession where you don’t get a pat on the back everyday.”
After administering Jackson’s oath, Tyler asked him if he wanted to see a police car. He also asked Cooper, who responded with “Yes, sir.”
The police chief then led the boys down a hallway and gave them a quick tour of the squad room, where he showed Jackson one of his own cards. The boy held the orange card in his hands, his eyes taking in his surroundings. The police chief then brought the boys just outside an interview room, where he said the “crooks” and arrested people go.
It’s just a blessing to have a kid that’s so kind and cares so much.
Danniel Keefe, Jackson’s father
The final stop of the tour was a close-up look at a police car parked in the station’s sally port. Tim Matthews, who in May was named Officer of the Year at the Manatee County Hundred Club Banquet, let Jackson sit in the driver’s seat. Matthews then turned on the police lights, which caused oohs and ahhs from Jackson’s parents and grandmother. Jackson sat quietly in the car, taking it all in.
Danniel Keefe observed his son as the boy was later interviewed by local media.
“My son has the biggest heart,” he said with misty eyes. “It’s a good feeling and the fact that he did this Sunday, I’m tearing up talking about it. ... just the fact that he did this expecting nothing. He just dropped it off and went to the neighborhood; that was the greatest feeling.
“It’s just a blessing to have a kid that’s so kind,” he said, “and cares so much.”