By Jessica Hardin
Olivia Welcomed to School
Olivia Dobbins’ mother, late Boardman police officer Heather Dobbins, was missing Wednesday morning for Olivia’s first day at a new school, but her presence was felt when nearly 20 local police officers congregated at East Palestine Elementary to escort the child inside.
After a procession of 17 police cars from nearby jurisdictions, the officers stood in the rain and gave Olivia high-fives and warm hugs as her dad, T.J. Dobbins, stepmother, Jennifer, and step-sister, Aanna, walked her into school.
“It shows that when your parents are cops, you’re part of that police family,” said
Olivia’s dad, a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Olivia, who attended kindergarten in Boardman, transferred to East Palestine after her mom’s unexpected death Jan. 11.
Heather Dobbins, 40, died at Cleveland Clinic after serving the Boardman Police Department for 16 years. She had been suffering from a brain tumor.
When East Palestine police officer Lt. Don Johnson learned that Olivia would be attending a new school, he came up with the idea to escort her on her first day.
“Officer Johnson sent a mass text to local agencies, and they came on their own time. It speaks volumes to what kind of people they are and what kind of family this is,” said T.J. Dobbins.
For Johnson, showing up to support Olivia in this way was a no-brainer.
“This was the thing to do, to make her part of the law-enforcement family and show her support,” said Johnson.
Olivia’s family and the school’s principal, Kim Russo, showed her to her new kindergarten classroom. Russo said that the school is equipped to support Olivia.
“A lot of our students have been through trauma. We have a full-time school counselor and psychiatric care in the building. We have sweet and caring students,” said Russo.
Wednesday’s escort was just one of the ways that the law-enforcement community mobilized to support the Dobbins family after Heather’s death.
Boardman Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 43 is creating a trust for Olivia, which she can access when she turns 18.
“There has been an outpouring of support from family and friends and law enforcement. We couldn’t have asked for anything more,” said Jennifer Dobbins.