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Long Island teen with cancer becomes 'Detective for a Day'

Sean Patrick Dixon, a 16-year-old cancer patient, was sworn in by the Suffolk County police as a detective for a day. On Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini presented the teen with a badge at the police department headquarters in Yaphank. (Credit: Newsday / Marcus Villagran)

With one hand raised, 16-year-old Sean Patrick Dixon was sworn in to the Suffolk County Police Department on Tuesday as a “Detective For a Day.”

Dixon, an 11th-grader at Patchogue-Medford High School, was diagnosed two years ago with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and lost his right leg at the hip to the disease.

The department sought to fulfill Dixon’s “enduring passion” for law enforcement while the teen undergoes medical treatment for growing tumors, police officials said.

“I’m very thankful to be here today. I’m really looking forward to this,” said Dixon, of Medford, at his swearing-in ceremony at John L. Barry Police Headquarters in Yaphank. “Everyone’s been so supportive and I’m excited.”

As a young child, Dixon was always interested in law enforcement, and was naturally inquisitive, said his mother, Kim Dixon. Her son’s relationships with his grandfather John Henderson, a former Nassau County police officer, and with SCPD Det. Ed Troyano further nurtured that interest, she added.

“He’s always looked up to my dad, and Detective Troyano, in the work that they do,” Kim Dixon said.

Troyano has become “like family,” Dixon said, since the two first met five years ago, when Troyano’s son Edward, now 16, joined a school lacrosse team with Dixon. Troyano said his conversations with Dixon solidified the teen’s decision to pursue a career in law enforcement.

“I would tell him stories about investigations that we were working on in the past, and he just loved it,” said Troyano, who works in the department’s Criminal Intelligence Bureau. “He would sit on the edge of the chair and listen with excitement, and he would say ‘Oh gosh, I want to do that so bad.’ ”

After Dixon’s leg was amputated, Troyano reached out to the SCPD and proposed the idea of “Detective For a Day.” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini and Chief of Department Stuart Cameron announced their decision to invite Dixon to the force with a video message that the teen received on his 16th birthday last month.

“I was thoroughly amazed,” Henderson said of the announcement. “He’s an individual that has given inspiration to Medford, Patchogue . . . He’s turned quite a few lives around.”

Sini and Cameron both joined Dixon at the ceremony Tuesday, along with close friends and family members. Sini said Dixon was a model recruit for the department, with a respect for law enforcement and public service.

“We need to be constantly recruiting great detectives to help us solve our crimes,” Sini said. “To swear [Dixon] in as detective for a day is a tremendous honor.”

Detectives from the department’s Identification and Homicide units accompanied Dixon throughout the day, showcasing the equipment and skills used to conduct investigations. Officers from the Emergency Services and K-9 units were also present during Dixon’s tour of duty.

“There really aren’t words for it,” Kim Dixon said. “It’s so overwhelming, but so amazing that he gets to live out one of his dreams because we don’t know what tomorrow brings for any of us.”

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