Girl, 8, hugs it out with Detroit cops
After 5 Dallas police officers were killed in 2016, Rosalyn Baldwin of Louisiana, now age 8, decided she would travel across the country to visit and hug police officers. She visited Detroit Police headquarters on Monday, May 14, 2018. Daniel Mears, The Detroit News
Detroit — Rosalyn Baldwin skipped out of the elevator grinning, made a beeline for Police Chief James Craig and embraced him.
The 8-year-old from Hammond, Louisiana, then hugged dozens of Detroit police officers who were lined up on the second floor of Public Safety Headquarters.
Even Alice, a bomb-sniffing yellow lab and her handler, Officer Eric O’Neil, got a hug.
“You’re a little angel, and the police officers love you,” Craig said. “This is special.”
Detroit was the latest stop on Rosalyn’s nationwide tour. Her goal is to hug officers in all 50 states. Michigan is the 28th state she’s visited since she started her quest, prompted by the killings of five Dallas police officers in 2016.
When asked Monday why she embarked on her journey, the preacher’s daughter had a one-word answer: “God.”
Angie Baldwin said her daughter was “on a God mission.”
“After those officers were killed, she said, ‘I’ve got to do something,’” Baldwin said. “So she decided to do this.”
Baldwin said the idea came to her daughter after attending church services.
Rosalyn, her mother, 18-year-old sister Daonna, and 3-year-old brother Phillip, were in Cincinnati last week, and next will head to New England.
“I think it’s inspiring to other kids her age, and even younger, to see her doing this,” Daonna Baldwin said.
Monday’s itinerary included a barbecue at the Fourth Precinct in southwest Detroit, followed by a helicopter ride, although Craig warned her the threatening inclement weather might prevent her from going up in the air.
“I was in an airplane,” the girl said. “They go higher than helicopters; airplanes go all the way up in the clouds.”
Rosalyn, who is homeschooled, said she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
Craig said he and other officers appreciated Rosalyn’s efforts — “especially in a time when police officers in some instances are under fire,” he said. “Whenever we can do something like this, it’s very exciting.”
Sgt. Mark Oliver said Rosalyn’s tour humanizes police officers.
“Right now, we’re going through a lot,” he said. “It’s a tough job. She’s bringing awareness that we’re human. We hurt. We have feelings. A lot of (officers) never see a smile. She didn’t care about your background, if you are a man or a woman, or what you looked like.
“She just wanted to give us a hug.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Rosalyn’s travel. As of Monday morning, she had raised $10,010 toward her $15,000 goal.