Bra'lynn Pate, four-years-old,  stood with her father, from Union City Patrol Officer Darnell Pate during the honor service held after funeral services for Dayton Police Detective Jorge Del Rio Tuesday at the University of Dayton Arena. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: LISA POWELL / STAFF

The story behind photograph of 4-year-old paying tribute to slain Dayton police detective

‘What better way to show her what my blue family is like?’ 

Bra’lynn Pate of Dayton, who will be 5 in a couple weeks, loves unicorns and wore her sparkly rainbow striped sneakers to the funeral for Dayton police Detective Jorge Del Rio last week. 

>>Del Rio remembered as family man, star detective, American hero

The little girl also loves police officers and tells her father, Union City Patrol Officer and Trotwood resident Darnell Pate, she is going to be one when she grows up. 

“She absolutely adores what I do and constantly tells people about it,” Pate said. “I talked to her about the officer passing away and asked if she wanted to go with Daddy to say goodbye. What better way to show her what my blue family is like?” 

Union City Patrol Officer Darnell Pate brought his daughter, Bra'Lynn Pate to the funeral services for Dayton police Detective Jorge Del Rio Nov. 12. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: LISA POWELL / STAFF

A photograph of the girl, the top of her head barely reaching the duty belt worn by her father, was published in the Dayton Daily News and media outlets around the world following the funeral. 

We have since learned the story behind the photo.

>>Det. Jorge Del Rio honored at U.S. Senate

When Bra’lynn asked how Detective Del Rio died, Pate said he “tried to explain the best way I could that he was doing his work and got shot.” 

Detective Del Rio was shot twice on Nov. 4 while serving a search warrant on a suspected drug house. He died Nov. 7. 

 

“Even though she’s young, I talk to my daughter about my job and the risk involved. She asks me ‘what would happen if someone hurt you?’ Pate said. 

“I wanted to show her this is how our blue family comes together to show support for another officer killed in the line of duty.” 

During the funeral, Pate said his daughter cried when more than a dozen bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” as an honor guard carried the casket out of the arena. 

The funeral procession for Dayton Police Detective Jorge Del Rio leaves the University of Dayton after the funeral Tuesday, Nov. 12. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: LISA POWELL / STAFF

Outside the girl shook hands with police officers from around the state and took a Thin Blue Line American flag from an Ohio State Highway Patrol officer, asking if she could keep it forever. 

She stood respectfully with her father during the honor service, the flag tucked into her pocket. 

>>Del Rio funeral: End of Watch broadcast across local police scanners

Pate said the photograph of his daughter has resonated in the law enforcement community at a time when some distrust the police. 

“I feel like if we can show the younger generation that it’s okay to be interactive with police officers and it’s okay to want to be a police officer when you grow up, that it would change the outlook on us,” Pate said. “It starts somewhere, so why not start with her?”

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