Officer Daniel Cooke is one of RTA’s finest Transit Police officers,with a love for his community and the people in it. He has found a passion for police patch trading that has led him to meet great people near and far. Officer Cooke was first approached by a Highway Patrol Officer 2 years ago at the RNC to trade department patches. Without much information on the topic, hestarted to investigate on social media and realized there is an entire world of police patch traders. Using a variety of hashtags such as #policepatchtrading he was able to find a community of people just looking to trade police patches as well as patches from fire, EMS and all branches of the Armed Forces. Fellow officers reach out to kids that love the patch trading hobby, especially those that are in hospitals, have been bullied or have a disability. Most of the time he sends the patches without expecting anything in return. But occasionally he does get a letter back in the mail or is able to build a small connection with some of the kids, like Brandon.
Brandon is a 12 year old boy from Paradise, Texas who was diagnosed with autism, bradet-biedl syndrome and asthma. But Brandon is a very happy kid and has found the brightness in life and a love for First Responders. From a young age he would get excited about seeing police, fire, or EMS and he would beg his mother Misty to pull over so he could meet them, shake their hands and take a picture.This became the first step in his collection of police patch trading.
Brandon’s first patch was from Officer Langford of the Bridgeport Police Department. They took pictures and Officer Langford, along with the Department’s Chief Stanford, extended the kindness of the whole force to meet with and present Brandon with his first patch. This patch was extra special for him, not only because it was his first one but also because it was a brand new patch that the officers themselves didn’t even have yet, and it was given to him directly from the Chief.
Not long after the trip to the police station, his mother Misty was at her local church talking to a friend who also happens to be a detective with the Sheriff’s department. They were having a casual conversation about the entire experience. Little did she know, but a firefighter passing by happened to overhear them and he ran out to his truck and grabbed a patch to give to Brandon. From that moment on Brandon was sold and he decided to start a collection of patches.
Brandon and Misty soon became regulars of the Bridgeport Police Department. The fellow officers soon began to reach out to friends in other departments far and wide and before Brandon knew it, it was like Christmas every day. Packages began to come in the mail by the truckload. “Once the story hit Facebook it really exploded,” said Misty, “He was getting up to 20 packages a day, from all over the world!” Misty started recording Brandon as he opened every package as a way of saying thank you to all of her son’s supporters.
Brandon’s world changed since he began collecting patches. Before this hobby his mother couldn’t get him out of the house without a fight, but once he started to collect patches, his entire attitude changed. Leaving the house to go see his “buddies” became a breeze for his mother and an everyday adventure for Brandon.
After collecting patches for almost 2 years, the number of packages has slowed down, but Brandon’s excitement for a new addition to his collection hasn’t.
His collection is now at 1,800 patches with items from border patrol, FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service and many more. He also has nearly 100 challenge coins, and tons of memorabilia from hats to badges to plaques and his collection spans 17 countries from Canada to New Zealand. Brandon is also an honorary officer of 10 police departments around the country and has a full police uniform from the Franklin County Sherriff’s Department in Kansas.
When asking Brandon which of the patches was his favorite he simply responds “all of them”! He is most fond of his first patch from Bridgeport police and a patch from Florida that says, “Donut Police”.
The hope for Brandon and his mother is to visit his “buddies” all over the world, but until then it is to keep his collection growing. If you have friends or family that are first responders, ask them to send a patch to Brandon to add to his collection!