NEW YORK (AP) — Teary-eyed New York City police officers on Tuesday honored a 10-year-old Texas girl who sent hundreds of thank you cards to the NYPD after two officers were fatally shot.
"My goal is to tell as many police officers as I can that I love them, and I am thankful for all that they do for us," Savannah Solis told officers at a Bronx precinct.
A police officer greets Savannah Solis at a precinct in the Bronx.
Watching TV at home in Tyler, Texas, she was moved to create some 200 cards for members of the New York Police Department after Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot in their patrol car Dec. 20.
"She just couldn't understand how can someone do this to these officers that were risking their lives to protect the public," said Officer Victor Cabral, whose wife's cousin is a good friend of the Solis family.
Savannah Solis, speaking at the ceremony.
When they opened the packaged cards, "it was a lot of love coming out of a small box," he said, adding that her thanks for the job they do was "something we desperately needed in that time."
The ceremony was held at Cabral's 41st Precinct in the Bronx because he was contacted by the Texas family.
Savannah also made 300 more cards for police throughout Texas and has visited officers in her home state.
On Tuesday, she was greeted by an NYPD helicopter flyover as she and her parents emerged from a van in the Bronx. Then the handlers for a group of K9 police dogs presented her with an NYPD cap she wore for the ceremony inside the Bronx precinct.
Savannah said her ambition is to become a member of a canine police unit.
Her mother, Debbie Solis, said the girl's first contact with police was their quick response to the mother's two heart attacks at their Texas home about four years ago.
"To my heroes, I want to say, 'Don't stop. Please don't give up,'" the girl told officers, speaking from a lectern, surrounded by dozens of police brass. "Many do not care or appreciate the sacrifices you make every day, but I do. ... Officers of New York City, you matter to me. Officers all across America, you matter to me."
NYPD officers had raised some money to invite the girl to New York, and JetBlue covered the family's flight. The girl said she wasn't interested in seeing the usual New York sites like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.
"I want to see more police stations," she said.
Later Tuesday, Savannah was to visit Brooklyn's 84th Precinct where the two slain officers were assigned. And sometime in the future, JetBlue is flying her to London, where she'll meet members of that city's police force.