OFFICER JORDAN SAVES THE DAY
Oneida has its very own superhero.
Little more than three hours after he was sworn into duty, Oneida City Police Officer Jor- dan Barahmeh and his partner Sgt. Matt Colella responded to a call of citizens being held hostage at the Kallet Theater. When the OPD duo arrived on scene, a masked villain was holding Tuesday’s Oneida Rotary meeting captive, threatening the Rotarians with dy- namite. Though the timer on the dynamite left the pair of police officers with less than two minutes to defuse the explosives, Officer Barahmeh and his partner remained calm under pressure. After backing the villain into a corner, Barahmeh outsmarted the ne’er-do- well, successfully diffusing the bomb and rescuing the hostages.
Exiting the Kallet, Officer Barahmeh was met by scores of people cheering his name and celebrating his rescue of dozens of Oneida citizens, and
the cheering only grew louder as the OPD’s latest recruit paraded the villain down Main Street.
Officer Barahmeh saved the day.
In front of fami ly, friends, fellow police, and the scores of community members lining the street, 13-year-old Officer Barahmeh’s Make-A-Wish came true.
Jordan has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, one of 40 different types of neuro- muscular disorders identified as muscular dystrophy. Duchenne is associated with weakened leg muscles and pelvic area, in addition to an overall loss of muscle, according to the National Institutes for Health, a federally administered health database. Mostly affecting boys, Duchenne typically necessitates the use of leg braces or wheelchairs to improve mobility and may lead to a shortened life span.
And while some Make-A-Wish children wish for a trip to Disney World or to meet their favorite athlete, Jordan wished to serve as a member of the Oneida City Police Department.
“I was taken back,” Colella said of Jordan’s wish, adding that even before the wish event, Jordan would frequently pass by the precinct, always ready with a wave for the officers. “It was pretty humbling. It’s inspiring that he chose to ride with us.”
In addition to stopping the bomb threat at the Kallet, Jordan and Colella ticketed a Wilber-Duck employee with a lead foot and a Corvette thanks to a speed trap set up on Farrier Avenue. Jordan also had the opportunity to arraign his captured villain in front of Oneida City Court Judge Anthony Eppolito, transport him to the Madison County Jail, and tour the E-911 center at the county facility.
“He enjoyed every minute. He was pretty reserved at first, but came out of his shell as the day went on. He was very intrigued with the computer system in the squad car,” Colella said. “He started barking orders and was direct with his commands.”
Jordan’s partner was not the only one with high praise for the 13-year-old’s performance.
“He did awesome,” said acting OPD Police Chief Paul Thompson. “These were all things on Jordan’s list. We really crafted this day around what Jordan wanted to do.”
Fortunately for Thompson, the department’s newest star has no inclination for the administrative duties of chief.
“Patrolman,” Jordan said of which law enforcement position - chief, investigator, or patrolman - he would want most.
In a day filled with police work, and even a coffee break with his fellow law enforcement at Dunkin’ Donuts, Jordan said his favorite part of the day was catching the villain.
“He said he was not going to be a bad guy anymore,” the youngster said of the impression he made on his bad guy.
That bad guy, comic book shop owner Jeff Watkins, also enjoyed a first on Tuesday as he donned a black cape and mask for his first ever role as a villain.
“I think a young man who defies his disability to work with Oneida’s finest, that’s a real hero, so I jumped at the chance to be here today,” Watkins said. “This was more than enough reason to suit up.”
In addition to the OPD, Watkins, Wilber- Duck, Dunkin’ Donuts, Origlio’s Wagon Wheel, the Greater Oneida Chamber of Commerce, Oneida City Hall, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, and Madison County E-911 all coordinated with CNY Make-A-Wish to make Jordan’s experience truly one- of-akind.
“I’m thankful to everyone,” said Jordan’s father Wael. “I’m grateful for what they have done. What surprised me the most was the love from the community and how everyone came together to make a small wish so big. It’s overwhelming.”
For Jordan’s mother Olga, seeing her son suited up in an OPD uniform was a special moment.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m so proud of him.”
Olga was also blown away by the amount of time and effort the OPD put into Jordan’s wish.
“Thank you to all of them for supporting Jordan and making his wish come true,” she said.
Among those lining Main Street to cheer Jordan on as he led his villain back to the station was former teacher Kimberly Handzel, who travelled from New Hartford to cheer on her pupil.
“I think it’s great and it shows community support for people to come out and cheer him on. He is funny, he’s kind, and he is very caring. He loves to make people laugh,” Handzel said, before adding, “His favorite thing to do last year was hand out tickets in class.”
Oneida City Mayor Leo Matzke said the day was “indicative of how our community rallies around people who need to have that happen.”
Also in the crowd was former classmate Miles Leahey and his mother Amy. Miles, who also has muscular dystrophy, believes events like Tuesday’s wish should happen more of ten and felt “very good” about support ing his good friend.
“He made a video yesterday and said, ‘Congratulations, Jordan. I miss you,’” Amy said.
Following the end of his shift, Jordan and his family celebrated at Origlio’s with members of the OPD.
“We couldn’t have asked for better guys,” Make-a-- Wish CNY program services manager Heidi Robinson said of the OPD force, several of whom were there on their own time to facilitate Jordan’s day. “They helped us magnify the wish.”
The CNY Make-a-Wish Chapter was established in 1985 and covers a 15 county range. Since its inception, the chapter has helped make more than 1,700 wishes come true for children throughout the region, and currently, there is a pipeline of some 120 wishes said President and CEO Diane Kupperman. Fittingly, the entire Make- a-Wish program began in 1980 in Arizona when a young boy wanted to be a police officer for a day.
Tuesday, that tradition continued in Oneida as Jordan’s wish came true, something neither Jordan and his family nor the Oneida City Police will likely forget.
Oneida City Police Officer Jordan Barahmeh, front left, and his partner Sgt. Matt Colella, back left, escort the criminal responsible for holding the Oneida Rotary Club hostage as part of the Make-A-Wish CNY program.
Make-A-Wish recipient Jordan Barahmeh signs his name to become an honorary Oneida City Police officer on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. With him is Oneida City Clerk Sue Pulverenti.
Make-a-Wish CNY recipient Jordan Barahmeh radios in to command after pulling over a speeding Corvette on Farrier Avenue in the City of Oneida.
Officer Jordan Barahmeh and his partner Sgt. Matt Colella act quickly to defuse the dynamite keeping Oneida Rotarians hostage as part of Farahmeh’s wish granted by the OPD and Make-a-Wish CNY.
CNY Make-a-Wish recipient Jordan Barahmeh cuffs his culprit.
Oneida City Police Officer and Make-A-Wish recipient Jordan Barahmeh brings his criminal, portrayed by actor Jeff Watkins, before Oneida City Judge Anthony Eppolito.