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Tumor-stricken officer's Christmas wish garners nationwide response

Posted December 28, 2014
Updated December 29, 2014

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— The only thing Tom Mitchell wanted for Christmas was the Chapel Hill Police Department.

What he got was much more.

Mitchell served Chapel Hill police as a patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and field trainer.

In 2011, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“He has gone through a series of surgeries and his condition is dire,” said Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue. “It’s really hard to talk about and it's humbling to know that I'll get up and put my uniform and come right back in here. Tom doesn't have that opportunity.”

The tumor has eliminated his short-term memory. Until recently, Mitchell would wake up and put on his uniform as if he was going to work – not remembering that he medically retired from the department.

After Mitchell made his Christmas wish, fellow officer and friend Eric Dallin made a call for help.

“So I wrote a Facebook post and I said here’s this guy that has this terrible illness and all he wants to do is come to work," he said. "Can’t we just give him the police department?”

Patches and badges from other departments started arriving within 24 hours of Dallin's post. On Sunday, one arrived from Chatham County.

“It’s hard to know exactly what it will mean for Tom because it’s hard to communicate with him right now, and it’s hard to know how much he really understands, but we'll know,” Blue said.

The department hopes to collect more patches before presenting them to Mitchell next week.

“If you ask a bunch of police officers across the state or across the country, can you give us something that symbolizes your service or your commitment to your department, this is what you get and that's Tom's Christmas wish,” Dallin said

Those wanting to donate can send items to the Chapel Hill Police Department, 828 Martin Luther King Blvd., Chapel Hill N.C. 27514, or contact the department through its Facebook page.

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