Miller County Raises the Bar for Inclusion

There is a new Sheriff in town at the Miller County Sheriff’s Department. On November 9, nineteen-year-old Christian Bowers, a young man with Down Syndrome, was sworn in at the Miller County Courthouse as an honorable deputy. Over 40 individuals including Sheriff Louie Gregoire, Judge Jon A. Kaltenbronn, Christian’s family, and his fellow deputies stood in support to witness a dream come true as Christian was officially sworn in by County Clerk Clinton Jenkins. Sheriff Gregoire said, to his knowledge, that this is the first time something like this has been done at the department. This past year, Sheriff Gregoire served as a volunteer for the Jesus Prom, a prom for individuals with special needs, held in Eldon. “It was the first time I had the opportunity to participate in something like that. It was such a wonderful way to be able to give back, and I will definitely be going back again next year. When I heard about Christian, and that his dream was to be a cop, I wanted to make that dream come true for him.”

Christian has had a lifelong dream of serving on the force and, after graduating high school, could not understand why he never had the opportunity to do so. Christian’s mom, Donna Bowers, shared the heartbreaking reality that many parents of the developmentally disabled face. “As parents, we are always told to tell our children they can be anything they want to be. I can do that with my two daughters, but I knew that Christian may never get the opportunity to actually be whatever he wanted. It broke my heart every time someone would ask him.” That’s when the Miller County Sheriff’s Department opened their doors and hearts – raising the bar for inclusion everywhere. His grandmother, Diane Bowers, wrote in a post thanking the department, “You answered his heart’s cry and ignited a hope in him. This family will be forever grateful.”

Christian, who will report for volunteer duty a couple times a month, will participate in SWAT training, ride-alongs, and will conduct safely orchestrated traffic stops in the department parking lot. Christian was ecstatic to report for his first day of volunteer duty on November 21. The Miller County Sheriff’s Department picked Christian up at his home in the department pickup truck, and he spent the afternoon assisting his fellow deputies with calls, including the investigation into possibly stolen cattle. Christian wore a bullet proof vest and his very own, department supplied, uniform and badge. Sheriff Gregoire took Christian out for a pizza lunch, and when he got ready to pay, the Sheriff was told another gentleman in the restaurant had paid for their lunch. When asked what he is most excited about, Christian said he was looking forward to making his first arrest, but more than anything, “I can’t wait to be a hero.”

Read more from Tiffany Burns here.