ITHACA, N.Y. — A very young police officer in Ithaca has fallen in the line of duty.
Colin Hayward Toland, better known in the Ithaca Police Department as "Officer Colin," passed away on Saturday.
According to a post on the Ithaca Police Department's Facebook page, Officer Colin's passing "was more peaceful and gentle than we could have imagined. On his last day, he went outside and felt the sun on his face and the wind in his hair."
CNYCentral first met Officer Colin in September 2016. While battling a brain tumor, Colin underwent several brain surgeries in the last few years, but showed a remarkable and inspiring resistance — enough to make him Ithaca Police's youngest officer. He was sworn in as an honorary member of the Ithaca Police Department a year-and-a-half ago at the age of 9, in front of his family, dozens of officers, and even his third grade class.
"My favorite part about it is the badge," Colin said at the time.
Colin's mother, Tamiko Toland, said at the time it's something she'll never forget.
"It meant so much to us, and I was genuinely the proud mother of a police officer this morning," she said at the ceremony.
Colin's positive attitude (all tests showed he shouldn't have even been conscious) is just one reason Ithaca Police Chief John Barber said at the time that it was an honor to have him on the force.
"It's inspiring and he's touched the heart of every officer here," Barber said at the time.
Among Colin's most successful cases was his first arrest — where he took into custody a Christmas Grinch he caught stealing toys. At the suggestion of Officer Colin, who believed that "a miracle could take place" and that there was hope yet for the Grinch, the judge sentenced Mr. Grinch to probation.
"I just like helping people," Colin said.
Ithaca Police said Officer Colin will return to Ithaca for a viewing and calling hours later this week at Lansing Funeral Home and burial at Greensprings Natural Cemetery. Specifics on a special celebration of his life will also be announced at a later time.
"Please carry Colin's spirit with you in life," the police department's Facebook post reads. "Find opportunities to help others, even in small ways. Keep joy and light in your heart, as these will light the darkest pathways."
When he was sworn in as an honorary police member, Colin's father called him the bravest kid he'd ever met, and that he knew Colin would take his job seriously.
"His time is limited. I just don't want him to be forgotten," his dad said at the time.
With the impact Colin has had as an officer, he certainly won't be.