ST. MARYS — A 7-year-old St. Marys boy who idolizes police officers recently gained attention through a photo that circulated on social media.
Rylan Layne, 7, is in second grade, and has been fascinated by police for the majority of his life, said his mother Kristin Wileman.
“He reads books about the occupation, and watches videos on YouTube that show the kind of training happening at the (police) academy,” she said. “He recently developed a major interest in SWAT (special weapons and tactics).”
Layne also knows all about basic police officer duties such as patrolling, arrests, Miranda rights and investigations, his mother said.
Layne and Wileman attended the “Come Together: Rural PA for Racial Equality” event held on the Diamond in St. Marys on June 4, where they had a great experience, she said.
At first, Layne was scared to go, Wileman says, due to things he had most likely seen happening in other areas. She told him the police would be there to calm his nerves.
“He asked questions regarding the memorial/awareness photos hanging around the Diamond,” she said. “He enjoyed the activities they set up for the younger crowd. But, of course, he was very excited about being able to visit the officers.”
While at the equality event, Layne asked his mom if he could make a sign that says “We both matter,” rather than one that says, “My life matters.”
“He wanted to show the officers his new sign,” Wileman said.
City of St. Marys Police Department officers Ralph Tettis Jr. and Mitchell Klender crouched down beside Layne for a photo with his sign, something he was very proud of, said Wileman. The photo received a lot of positive attention on Facebook.
“Sure, the world is complicated, but Rylan simplified some of it that day,” she said. “In his heart and mind, he has love and respect for himself, his roots and officers of the law. He wants both sides to be safe from outward harm.”