The Hammond Police Department celebrated Officer Enrique Cook’s friendship with 11-year-old Matthew Virden and Cook’s commitment to the Hammond community on July 2 at his Officer Recognition.
Cook is an officer in the K-9 unit, which often conducts K-9 demonstrations at Cabela’s. Four years ago, Cook met Matthew at a demonstration. Matthew is autistic, and he loves learning more about the police and the K-9 unit. Cook noticed Matthew’s excitement at every single demonstration, and they quickly became friends.
“That kind of sealed our bond. I was like, ‘Hey, this kid’s cool. He remembered me and ran to me and gave me a big hug.’ And ever since then I always look for Matthew at our demos,” Cook said.
“He’s awesome and cool,” Matthew said of Cook. Matthew said one of his favorite parts of being friends with Cook is the opportunity to spend time with his K-9 dog partner, Aros.
At Cook’s Officer Recognition, Matthew was there with his parents, Danielle and Scott, and his siblings. Hammond Police Chief John Doughty awarded Cook with the first ever District Service Award and Matthew with the VIP Visitor’s Coin.
“[Cook] has a big heart, and he’s very community-oriented. He’s from Hammond. He’s invested in this community and he cares,” Doughty said.
Doughty said the District Service Award is for officers who go above and beyond.
“It’s something we hope for but it’s not mandated,” Doughty said. “So they just take it upon themselves because of the goodness of their hearts to do a little extra.”
Danielle said Matthew wants to be a police officer and firefighter when he grows up—he developed a love and passion for it at a young age. Scott said Cook has basically taken Matthew under his wing in the last few years.
At the beginning of June, Cook threw Matthew a birthday party at the Hammond Police Department, where he got to tour and have a fun day with the officers and his family.
“Every time I make eye contact with Matthew, he just has this super big smile and he’s waving. He’s always really excited to be there. It means the world when you can have an impact on somebody,” Cook said.
“With Matthew’s presence, it kind of makes the other kids drop their guard and it helps out the demo,” he continued. “He helps our demos go smoother and helps bring everybody a little closer.”
Matthew sees Cook as a role model and often says that Cook is his favorite police officer.
“I love their friendship. It’s going to be an unforgettable bond. It’s just remarkable,” Danielle said.
The Hammond Police Department was proud to recognize Cook for all that he has done for Matthew and for the community.