NEW CUMBERLAND - Most people have to wait until they grow up to get a chance to live their dream.
On Saturday, 8-year-old Raymond James Ripley Jr., of Newell, got his chance by becoming a junior deputy with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
Known as "Ray-J," Ripley has been diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of malignant brain tumor, for which he already has had surgery and gone through radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
He said he has wanted to be a deputy since he was 5 years old, and was happy to have the experience.
"It helps people," he said of his interest in joining the law enforcement field.
Ray-J was sworn in Saturday morning by Sheriff Ralph Fletcher before being taken on a tour of the courthouse and going out into the community to begin his duties.
Raymond James 'Ray-J' Ripley Jr., left, is sworn in as a junior deputy by Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher Saturday at the Hancock County Courthouse. Ripley spent much of the day working with representatives of the sheriff's department. -- Craig Howell
Junior Deputy 'Ray-J' Ripley stands outside his patrol car Saturday while handling a traffic stop in New Cumberland. Ripley was assigned to work with Lt. J.T. Keeder through much of the day. -- Craig Howell
Junior Deputy 'Ray-J' Ripley fingerprints a suspect he arrested earlier in the day. Those involved in Saturday's activities included off-duty deputies and volunteers from the community. -- Craig Howell
Junior Deputy 'Ray-J' Ripley dusts for fingerprints while investigating a crime scene at Tomlinson Run State Park Saturday. -- Craig Howell
Assigned to work with Lt. J.T. Keeder, Ray-J, dubbed J1 while in uniform, spent the morning taking part in several traffic stops, writing citations for stop sign violations, directing other deputies from the county dispatch center, assisting in a drug search and even arresting a wanted fugitive.
Lt. Chuck Stanley said the sheriff's department has been working with the Ripley family for the last two months to make arrangements, keeping up with his health via social media.
"Everyone is taking part in this," Stanley said, explaining those involved in Saturday's activities were off-duty deputies and volunteers from the community.
After having lunch together at Connie's Corner, Ray-J and his fellow deputies spent the afternoon at Tomlinson Run State Park, where they were requested to assist Deputy Scott Little and his K-9 partner Christina on a search for missing children.
They later would respond to the park's campground to gather evidence following a report of a breaking and entering, where Ray-J would take pictures and dust for fingerprints.
The day ended with a reception at the courthouse, with family and others from the sheriff's office gathering for refreshments.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)