4-year-old boy battling cancer becomes Detroit police chief for the day

‘We are grateful to provide excitement for this family and a memory they will cherish forever’

DETROIT – A four-year-old boy battling brain cancer gets a special surprise the day before he begins treatment.

Aniel Mendez loves police officers and firefighters, and Thursday (Dec. 1), he became Detroit’s honorary police chief.

The day was a dream come true for Mendez. His father, Jorge Mendez, says, “He’s got police cars at home, and he’s always walking around saying, ‘Daddy, I’m going to arrest you, daddy!’”

The family discovered Aniel Mendez was born with a brain tumor about a month ago after taking him to the hospital for a fall. He’s had at least one surgery and is now losing his sight and memory.

“Then recently, they gave us some more information that it’s not good for him, so every moment, every minute means the world right now,” Jorge Mendez.

Patti Kukula, executive director of Detroit Public Safety Foundation, says they found out about what Aniel Mendez was going through from a neighborhood officer that knew the family.

“Since yesterday (Wednesday), our officers and leadership and the chief said, ‘We’re going to do this,’ and they all came together,” said Kukula. “All of the squads, the mounted police, the bomb squad, the dive team, the motorcycle fella.”

The day turned out to be emotional for the officers and Kukula.

“I have two healthy children, and you know you just never know what comes the next day, and so we are grateful to provide this excitement for this family and a memory they will cherish forever,” Kukula said.

Aniel Mendez’s mom, Abby Mendez, says, “We are beyond grateful to see my son’s dream can come true at such a young age. Knowing that he can actually be happy during this time makes us happy, and that’s all we want.”

Here is the link to the GoFundMe page his parents set up.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.