By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Ethan Gossard, 12, was selected by the Clallam County Sheriff's Office while Ryan Anderson, 8, was selected by the Forks Police Department to represent the law enforcement agencies, respectively, at the state's annual Chief for a Day event.
The 34 young chiefs and sheriffs — each of whom is a survivor of a disability or illness — will be taken in a parade of police cars from the ShoWare Center in Kent to the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center in Burien, then sworn in to their positions, followed by a celebration luncheon.
Ethan and Ryan appeared in the 2014 Forks Old Fashioned Fourth of July Parade, riding in the Sheriff's Office's float.
Each will receive a package of gifts from his law enforcement sponsor, from the state police academy and from local businesses in his home area.
Ethan, who will enter the seventh grade at Forks Junior High School, was diagnosed as an infant with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which causes muscle tightness in the legs, arms and face.
He is the son of Forks Police Department evidence technician Kelsey Pearson and Brad Gossard.
Ethan said Tuesday that he would like to someday work for the Forks Police Department, like his mother.
He learned of his selection for the program in October 2013.
“I was really excited but really didn't know what it was,” he said.
Since then, he has been fitted for a sheriff's uniform and is eagerly awaiting the procession and the training demonstrations that will be held for the participants during the swearing-in and luncheon.
The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission asks departments each year if they know of someone who could benefit from the program, said Sheriff's Sgt. Brian King.
“He was known to the police community for some time,” King said.
It is the first time the Clallam County Sheriff's Office has selected a child for the 11-year-old program, he said.
King said he will drive Ethan in a sheriff's vehicle in the police car procession to meet Sheriff Bill Benedict at the training center for the swearing-in ceremony and to receive an official badge of office.
Ryan, who was suggested for the honor by the Quillayute Valley School District, has diabetes — just like Forks Police Administrator Rick Bart.
“When I showed him my insulin pump and told him that he could be anything he wants, he just lit up,” Bart said Tuesday.
The department will invite Ryan to spend the time between his swearing-in ceremony and the beginning of school at the Police Department to act as honorary police chief, he said.
“It's pretty awesome,” Ryan said.
He said he wants to see the mounted units and eventually get a horse — and eventually be a police officer.
Ryan is going into the third grade at Forks Elementary School and is the son of Eric and Tisha Anderson.
“It's quite the honor. He looks really handsome in his uniform,” his mother said Tuesday.
Forks has selected a child as Chief for a Day for the past few years, Bart said.
Many local businesses have donated generously to the program, he added.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.