Spokane’s newest police officer had barely graduated from the academy when she got her first call.
Officer Sierra Shank was assigned to track down an escaped convict with a history of assaulting police officers.
“He’s a pretty bad guy,” said Sgt. Rob Boothe at a morning roll call meeting Wednesday. “Don’t try to get him by yourself or be a hero.”
Sierra, a 7-year-old girl from Post Falls, got the chance to serve on the force for a day through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.
She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the lymph nodes, one year ago. Her family went through four months of uncertainty about her illness before receiving a diagnosis and spent most of last year getting Sierra treatment.
Now, her cancer is in remission.
“Every day I’m thankful,” said her mother, Michelle Shank.
She said her daughter has never specifically expressed interest in being a cop, but she’s a bit of a tomboy who lives with two older brothers. When she was younger, she’d tell people she wanted to be “a girl who kicks boys’ butts” when she grew up.
Though she’s from Post Falls, the wish was granted in Spokane because several Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers had connections at the city. The majority of her cancer treatment has taken place at Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.
The police department has never been asked to grant a wish for the foundation. It pulled out all the stops to make her day memorable, including calling in the Sheriff’s Office helicopter to search for the escaped suspect and taking her out on a boat to catch him.
“We had more people trying to volunteer than we could use,” said Lt. Kevin King, who runs the police academy.
Sierra’s day started with training at the Spokane Police Academy, where she learned how to handcuff suspects and helped officers make an arrest.
She visited the dispatch center to practice making calls before coming back to catch an escaped prisoner who was hiding in the bushes along the Spokane River near Upriver Dam.
Soon after handcuffing the escapee, Sierra received word that he had broken out of Officer Art Dollard’s car and was spotted robbing the Spokane Law Enforcement Credit Union. Sierra arrived and was told the suspect was hiding in a bathroom.
Working with the department’s newest police dog, Murphy, who’s still in training, Sierra convinced the prisoner to surrender and come out so she could handcuff him.
“With no concern for the great danger she was in, Officer Sierra used excellent techniques to handcuff the suspect,” said Assistant Chief Craig Meidl, while presenting the girl with an award for service to the city.
Mayor David Condon also praised her for her “leadership in managing critical law enforcement resources” before presenting her with the Mayor’s Coin.
Though Sierra was shy in front of cameras, she was eager to try out her new handcuffs on her older brothers. She smiled as her partner, Officer Tiffany Iverson, helped her snap the cuffs around her brother’s wrists, but said she wasn’t planning to handcuff any of the other kids in her second-grade class.
“They’ve gone up and beyond what I expected,” Michelle Shank said. “She’s not going to forget it.”
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