Police super fan

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle Officers Mike Cameron, Shannon David, Jim Gravett and Sandy Silva with the Columbus Division of Police Mounted Unit brought their horses Legend, Liberty, Joy and Jack to meet Michelle Perdue, one of their biggest fans.
Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Officers Mike Cameron, Shannon David, Jim Gravett and Sandy Silva with the Columbus Division of Police Mounted Unit brought their horses Legend, Liberty, Joy and Jack to meet Michelle Perdue, one of their biggest fans.

A lone police officer riding a horse down a residential street is a sight in of itself, but four of them travelling together in unison is a sight to behold.

For many in the westside neighborhood where this unusual scene occurred, it was as puzzling as it was entertaining.

“Why are they here?” asked one passerby.

“What’s going on?” asked another.

To their surprise, the officers with the Columbus Division of Police Mounted Unit were not there to make a bust or anything of that sort. They were there to visit one of their biggest cheerleaders.

For as long as Mary Burris can remember, her daughter, Michelle Perdue, has been a huge fan of law enforcement officers.

“I don’t exactly know when her interest in law enforcement officers began or what started it,” Burris said. “All I know is that it happened a long time ago and it’s been going on ever since.”

She fondly recalls listening to Michelle singing the theme to “COPS” – her favorite television show – around the house at all hours of the day and night and then chattering on about how much she loves them and wants to be a part of the force.

“Everything ‘officer’ just makes her so happy,” said Burris.

Born with Dubowitz Syndrome, a rare genetic and development disorder that leaves her susceptible to many illnesses, Michelle, 41, has never been able to and will never be able to officially join the police force. But that doesn’t stop her from wanting to do so, or from using her voice to extol their virtues.

“They’re very nice and they help people,” she said.

It was during a discussion about officers last year that finally put her into contact with them.

One day, Michelle was speaking with neighbor Bunnie Cook about the police and how much she wanted to meet them. Unbeknownst to Michelle, Cook knew an officer with the Columbus Division of Police.

“She got right on the phone with him (Mark George) and he sent a cruiser out last summer and she got to ride around in it,” said Burris.

She even received official police t-shirts, stickers and a cap that she wears on very special occasions.

Burris figured that after that event, it would be the last time they heard from Michelle’s new friends and coworkers. It turns out that was only the beginning.

Last Friday, Burris received a message from Shannon David, an officer with the Columbus Division of Police Mounted Unit. She asked if Michelle had some free time coming up because she would like to bring a horse by for her to see.

Surprised but delighted by the request, they cleared out some time and waited in anticipation until David could swing by.

Shortly before the visit, nerves set in for Michelle.

“I don’t want to get on the horse,” she said. “It’s too big for me.”

She also didn’t want the horse coming into the house either as it could scare her cats Smoky and Willy, the latter of whom is Michelle’s partner in crime fighting.

But the nerves quickly settled into excitement when she saw the trailer reach the house. Excitement turned into confusion when they drove past.

“They got to get it together here,” she remarked as she peered out the front door.

Outside with her cousin, mother and mother’s boyfriend, Michelle kept watch for any sight of a horse and office coming down the street.

After waiting somewhat patiently, one horse and officer turned down the road. That sight was quickly followed by three other horses and officers cantering down the street.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” said Burris. “I expected one horse; not the whole cavalry.”
Michelle couldn’t believe it either.

“The horses and officers are really coming,” she exclaimed.

The neighbors couldn’t believe it either.

“It’s not something you see every day,” said Tonia Parnell.

Coming to a stop right at her house, Michelle marveled at the horses and officers equally. She asked questions, talked about her day, talked about theirs and encouraged motorists traveling down the street to come out and say hello.

“The horses won’t hurt you,” she told one child who showed some hesitance nearing the horses. “They won’t let it hurt you because the officers are here.”

Though there was no official reason for the visit from the mounted unit, David said they just wanted to show a small token of appreciation to one of their most ardent fans.

David said she often checks in with the family over Facebook and is always heartened by the support she receives from them, Michelle in particular.

“It means so much to us.”

She said she hopes this visit meant as much to Michelle as her words of kindness mean to the officers.

Michelle confirmed that it did.

“It was great,” she said. “I loved it and them.”

Burris said her daughter hasn’t stopped talking about the horses or the officers since the visit took place in late October.

“She loves them more now, if that’s even possible,” she said with a laugh.

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