Jackie Vanderklift is a 69 year-old Community Living Algoma client who was apprehended by police in Sault Ste. Marie Wednesday afternoon.
OK, she wasn’t really apprehended.
Vanderklift - who has had, by all accounts, a fascination with the Ontario Provincial Police for years - was picked up at her home and ‘deputized’ by the Sault OPP detachment for the day.
“A few weeks ago I received a call from one of Jackie’s workers,” said Sault OPP Sgt. Monique Baker. “She let me know that Jackie’s been a long time fan of the OPP, and if there was any way that she could pop up for a little visit.”
Baker and OPP Cnst. Terry Chitaroni gave Vanderklift a lift out of her wheelchair and to the local detachment, where she was given a tour of the facilities, including the cells and forensics unit.
After meeting a number of officers - not to mention police dogs - Vanderklift was then showered with OPP-themed gifts and a cake following a visit from Santa.
“We thought we would give her an afternoon she wouldn’t forget,” said Baker. “I mean, if it takes something so simple to make someone so happy, why wouldn’t we do it?”
Community Living Algoma employee Shawna Mills said that Vanderklift actively collects OPP memorabilia, and was even sporting a baseball cap from the OPP museum when Baker and Chitaroni arrived to pick her up at her home.
“Jackie’s always loved the police, she’s been infatuated since she was a little girl,” said Mills.
Vanderklift is also a collector of police lapel pins, so the excitement in the Sault OPP detachment was palpable when she received not one, not two, but seven pins.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” said Mills. “It almost makes me want to cry. They went over and above. I’m speechless.”