UNION CITY (KTVU) -- In Union City, the police chief recently met with a potential new recruit -- who is all of 8 years old.
Demetrius Davis, who is in the third grade, wants to become a cop and wear a police badge. So Union City Police Chief Darryl McAllister invited him over recently and swore him in as a deputy chief.
"I like to help people when they're hurt," Demetrius said. "Some of the police, they don't really like us. I think it it would be good for me to help them too."
He added: "Police officers really help you but sometimes people can't see that."
McAllister says he sees a little bit of himself in Demetrius. The chief says he was 8 years old when an officer took him under his wing and inspired him to go into law enforcement.
"Not everybody wants to be a police officer," McAllister said. "Not all kids want to be a police officer, but those interactions, we never know. We just never know how lasting an effect it might have."
As an African American law enforcement officer and police chief, McAllister said it is important to reach out to youngsters like Demetrius, especially with the ongoing national conversation about race, profiling and a spate of high-profile officer-involved shooting around the United States in recent months in which several people of color were killed.
"Yes, there are racial divides in this country," said McAllister, a former officer on the Hayward police force. "Yes, we can be inspired by people who look like us and who we may see in ourselves even in the future."
Cassandra Davis is raising her grandson. She says at one point, she tried to talk him out of becoming an officer, thinking he wouldn't be able to speak out if he saw wrongdoing on the force.
She says she's since changed her mind.
"I think that he'll be able to make a great impact, so I said I couldn't discourage him any longer," Davis said. "I had to do whatever I can to make sure that he followed his dreams."
McAllister said" "Like me when I was 8 years old, I want that experience for him to be one that carries with him as he gets older and put some perspective on the things he sees and learns."