Cop for a Day: Autistic boy gets ride of his life with Republic Police Department

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REPUBLIC, Mo. (KY3) -- It's the first day on patrol for rookie cop Caleb Neely, an honorary officer with the Republic police department.

For the last two years, the 10 year old has been obsessed with police says his mother, Amy Neely, "He loves the police. He wants to be a policeman. It's policemen everything. From the time we get up in the morning till the time we go to bed."

He's so obsessed, he takes a picture with every officer he ever meets.
He even sends a cutout of himself, called Flat Caleb, to police departments around the country so he can get his snapshot with more police.

So this ride along is beyond a dream come true.

For young Officer Neely, the best part is pulling people over and writing tickets.

"You wanna give her a ticket or you want to give her a warning? You wanna give her a break?" Asks Sgt. John Tinsley.

"A ticket," Caleb responds.

"You want to give her a ticket? You got it." Tinsley says.

Officer Neely rarely opts to give warnings. He prefers to lay down the law by making an example out of scoff-laws. He assesses a $5 fine to a driver who runs a stop sign yet for another driver, he levies a $100 fine for expired tags.

(Some of the traffic stops are staged, in others, Sgt. Tinsley checks in with the driver, and explains he'll let them off with a warning if they'll just play along with the fake ticket written up by Caleb. Each ticket includes the fine amount deemed appropriate by Caleb, accompanied by a smiley face to soften the blow.)

Officer Neely has already earned a nickname in the department, "No Mercy Neely."

Amy says Caleb's autism means sometimes the only way people can connect with him is by talking about police.

Today, he's bubbly and energetic; loving every minute of the action.

"It makes me really happy. I don't think the smile has left his face all day and that makes you really happy as a mom," Amy says.

It's also a special assignment for Neely's patrol partner Sgt. Tinsley.

You see, in February, Tinsley was reviewed after pulling the trigger in a fatal shooting that killed Destry Meikle.

Emotionally, it's been a tough year for Tinsley, even though he was cleared and returned to duty.

Training this young rookie helps Tinsley feel like a hero again.

In Officer Neely's eyes, not even Springfield Batman is as cool as Sergeant Tinsley.

In a staged hot pursuit, two patrol cars chased some actors posing as criminals around the block next to the Republic Police station (never getting above 40 MPH and being careful to obey traffic laws). When the actors jumped out and ran, Officers Tinsley and Neely tackle the baddies and handcuff them, with some assistance from Springfield Batman.

Thanks to the entire department's generosity and Tinsley's in particular, they didn't just make Caleb's day, they honored the badge and the promise not just to protect, but to serve.