Four-year-old Jackson Scherlen didn't have his father at his side on the first day of pre-K in Texas this week. But he did have about 20 of his father's brothers and sisters from the Amarillo Police Department to give him a hug and wish him the best.
Officer Justin Scherlen never missed the first day of school for his four children, according to the Amarillo Independent School District, but he died recently from complications of an on-duty vehicle crash that took place last year.
He left behind his children and wife, Jessica, and to help fill the void as the kids when back to school, nearly two dozen of his fellow officers escorted them to school on their first day, the school district said.
Jackson hugged and high fived every one of the officers before going to class at at Coronado Elementary School.
"You have fun, OK? Be good," says one officer, as seen in video of the goodbye.
"See you, bud. Have a good day at school," says another.
The group posed for photos outside the school as well, preserving a bittersweet memory for the Scherlen family and their larger family at Amarillo PD.
"As a police department we feel like we're a family. We're around each other so much that we get to know each other, we get to know each other’s families that we feel that close,” Officer Jeb Hilton told NBC affiliate KAMR in Amarillo.
The station reports that two of Scherlen's other children, a fourth and a second grader, were also escorted to school Monday, before the officers returned to take Jackson to his pre-Kindergarten class.