They don’t usually make uniforms for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in size 5s.
But Blauer did, and Blue Line outfitted it with all the patches and enhancements, including Deputy K. Barnes right over the right pocket.
And after Sheriff A.J. Smith put on the finishing touches, including whittling down the belt considerably before cinching around the Apalachicola Bay Charter School kindergartner’s tiny waist, it was time for the Monday morning swearing in.
Barnes, 5, has been devoted to wearing the uniform his grandmother Barbara Butler bought him last Halloween as often as he can, and so this year Smith arranged to get him the official variety, down to the finishing touches.
There was even a plastic gun in the holster, and while Barnes enjoyed drawing it on sheriff’s staffers, he did have one question.
“Where’s the cuffs?” he asked.
Barnes, the son of Cierra Barnes, and great-grandson of the late Carl Carlson, who served with the sheriff’s office, had been born prematurely with a multitude of health conditions, due to a lack of amniotic fluid.
After 90 days in the hospital on a ventilator, doctors sent him home two days later, with the expectation that he would likely not survive much longer.
But he did, and he’s flourished, enduring spinal surgeries, correction of a cleft palate and heart repairs. He walks with a gait but his mind is sharp, as evidenced by his repeated questions to Smith as he suited him up.
“He’s beat all the odds,” said Butler. “He’s a miracle.”
Mom was all smiles as she cradled his 5-month-old baby sister in her arms and watched the ceremony. Also at home at Kashton Barnes, 4, and Justin Massey, Jr. 13.
Butler said her grandson had long watched his uncle Brice Carlson and cousin Miranda Coatney, who works for the sheriff’s office, in their uniforms, and he’s now overjoyed to have one of his own.
It’s probably going to be a challenge to keep him from wanting to wear it every day.