Four his fourth birthday, Jeremy Diaz just wanted to meet a "real live police officer" and have his picture taken. For a while, it didn't look like it was going to happen. That's when a Union County Sheriff's officer stepped in to help.

Johnathan Regan, 30, had just gotten off duty, showered and was about to sit down to dinner when he got a call from his mother, Kymm Balinth, a member of the Roselle Park First Aid Squad. Balinth was at the squad building waiting for her shift to start when Jeremy and his godmother pulled into the parking lot. The 4-year-old was in tears, Balinth told NJ 101.5.

"The woman explained that she had come to the First Aid squad because it was her godson's fourth birthday and all he wanted was to meet and take a picture with 'a real live policeman,' but they had stopped at police headquarters ... and all the officers were tied up with something that had happened, and would not be able to break for quite a while," Balinth said.

Unfortunately, it was getting close to Jeremy's bedtime, and by the time local police would have been available, he would likely be asleep. Balinth said Jeremy's godmother thought that maybe meeting an EMT would be a good substitute, but "he had no interest. He wanted to meet a policeman," she said.

Fortunately for Jeremy, Regan, "a real live policeman" and honorary member of the first aid squad, only lived about half a block away.

"I put my uniform back on and went over there and wished him a happy birthday and gave him a hug," Regan said. "It was exciting."

Regan, who began working for the Union County Sheriff's Department two years ago, recalled an event from his own childhood that sparked his interested in becoming a police officer.

“When I was a little kid, my mother took me to see a friend of hers who was a police officer and he showed me the police station, and that kind of pushed me in the law enforcement direction," said Regan, whose father Jeff was an auxiliary police officer.

Balinth said as soon as Jeremy saw the officer walking toward the squad building, he immediately stopped crying.

"The boy's face lit up," she said. "He asked John if he was a real live policeman. The child jumped out of his godmother's arms and ran over asking all kinds of questions about his belt, equipment, hat, badge etc."

After meeting his new police officer friend, Jeremy spent the rest of his birthday touring the squad building and the ambulances that Regan often drives when he's on duty with the RPFAS. Balinth said before leaving, Jeremy said "it was the best birthday ever."

“We always encourage our Sheriff’s Officers to reach out and interact in positive ways with our community, and in doing so, Sheriff’s Officer Johnathan Regan not only helped to spread good will, but also made the day of a young child,” Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan said in a statement sent to New Jersey 101.5. “We commend him for his efforts.”

Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor for news at NJ 101.5. Reach her at, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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