ITHACA, N.Y. — With flashing lights against Tuesday’s setting sky, regional police officers escorted Lt. Colin home. Along the way, firefighters and emergency responders and many members of the community lined streets along the route to show their respect to Ithaca’s youngest and most inspiring police officer.
At about 6:30 p.m., the plane carrying Colin Hayward Toland landed at Syracuse Hancock International Airport where he was met with a full Police Honor Guard Service. The hearse carrying Lt. Colin was flanked by Ithaca police, but officers from many departments in the region were part of the procession, which led from Syracuse through Cortland and Dryden to a funeral home in the Ithaca area.
At 10 years old Lt. Colin, often known to the community as Officer Colin, was the youngest member of the Ithaca Police Department. He passed away at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, this weekend after a long battle with brain cancer. He had always dreamed of becoming a police officer, and the Ithaca Police Department made that dream true in September of 2016.
And the title wasn’t all show. Officer Colin climbed the ranks and was recently promoted to lieutenant. He was often at the police station and events, and even made a high-profile arrest of the Grinch last year.
The community’s love for Colin was visible along the route Tuesday as soon as the procession turned off of Route 81 from Syracuse. People came out holding flags and waving the motorcade on. The procession traveled under American flags strung between ladder trucks.
From 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Ithaca High School, there will be a community gathering and calling hours to remember Lt. Colin’s life. The event is kid friendly and includes activities for kids to help cope with grief and appreciate a life well lived, according to the Facebook event.
Images and video by Jacob Mroczek/Ithaca Voice