RIDGEWOOD - A 10-year-old boy who was named an honorary police chief was laid to rest Tuesday.
Michael Feeney was given the honorary title by the Ridgewood Police Department before he succumbed to a four-year battle with cancer last week. He was laid to rest with funeral service honors usually reserved for members of the police force.
Friends and family remembered him while officers from around the state saluted the young chief they considered one of their own.
Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward came out of the church saying "I lost a partner today" and that adults could learn from the boy. "He embodied courage," he says. "He embodied leadership. He embodied commitment and service to others. That's what we believe in."
The Hawes Elementary School fifth-grader was running for office at his school and was a huge New York Giants fan.
Neighbors and classmates had worked to decorate the Feeney home to give Michael an early Christmas surprise.
"Michael was a great kid who was an intelligent kid," says his father Jack Feeney. "He loved school. He loved all of his friends. Most of all, he liked to make people laugh."
Despite his frequent medical treatments, Michael helped establish the department's first Youth Ambassador Program. "I think he made some very good decisions, I think he gave a lot of chiefs a run for their money there, and it didn't cost them nothing," says Fairlawn Police Capt. Bob Kinear.
"Wherever I go," his father says, "so many people come up to me and say, 'Michael made me a better person."
Michael had been struggling with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare, aggressive and often fatal bone cancer that typically develops in children and young adults.
Michael was buried with his badge. Next summer, the Ridgewood police department will host the Chief Michael Feeney Junior Police Academy.
For video on honorary kid police chief Michael Feeney, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.