DeFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. — The 911 call on Thursday was short and sweet.
“Will you come over cause we’re eating Thanksgiving,” the young voice with the distinct southern accent inquired. “Thank you. Bye.”
The caller hung up the phone immediately, leaving the Walton County 911 dispatcher puzzled, but happy.
“With all the bad calls we take on a daily basis, this one was a welcomed happy call that made all of us smile,” said Walton County Sheriff’s Office Lead Communications Officer Monica Webster.
The caller was 5-year-old Billy Nolin. And he’d extended the invitation to his family’s feast without anyone in his house knowing.
His mom, Landi McCormick, was in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving dinner with her mom while Billy was outside with his grandfather and his little brother, 4-year-old Camden. Billy was playing with an old cell phone when his grandfather noticed that he was talking to someone.
“I came out and asked him what he was doing,” McCormick recalled.
Billy looked at his mother rather sheepishly and admitted that he had dialed 911.
“I asked him, ‘Why did you do that? You know that you are only supposed to do that if there’s an emergency,’ ” McCormick said. “He started crying, and just a few minutes later Deputy (Dannon) Byrd from the Sheriff’s Office drove up.”
The deputy walked up to McCormick and asked if Billy was the young man who had called 911. Rather than scold the little boy, Byrd knelt down and thanked Billy for his kind invitation.
“He told us that Billy had made his day,” McCormick said. “But then he reminded him that we should only use 911 for emergencies.”
As an added treat, Byrd and his partner, Deputy Aaron Ethridge, gave the boy a sheriff’s badge and allowed him to sit in their patrol car and activate the lights and siren.
“They asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up,” McCormick said. “He said, ‘I want to be a cop, so I can be nice to little kids like you are some day.’ ”
Billy said he first became aware of the Walton County Sheriff’s Office when deputies visited his school, Maude Saunders Elementary, for Dads and Donuts Day.
“I wanted them to have cheesecake with us,” Billy said, explaining why he invited the deputies for dinner. “It’s my favorite, so I wanted them to have some, too.”
WSCO Public Information Officer Corey Dobridnia posted some photos from the visit on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, and the post quickly went viral. Folks from all over the country praised the deputies and Billy for their kindness.
“This is typical of the kind of professionalism our deputies display every day,” Dobridnia said. “It just goes to show that deputies aren’t just about arresting people and putting them in jail.
“Billy’s call brightened all of our days, and the deputies’ visit gave Billy a Thanksgiving memory that will stay with him for the rest of his life.”
By Kelly Humphrey
Northwest Florida Daily News