In some ways, Rosalyn Baldwin's trip to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office to hug deputies on Monday stood apart from visits she's made to numerous other law enforcement agencies since the 2016 killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
It was the Hammond girl's eighth birthday, and her godfather, Judd Harris, works as a detective for the Sheriff's Office.
But the reason she chose to celebrate her special day at the JPSO's investigations bureau in Harvey was no different from her reason for visiting police departments in 24 other states so far.
"God took me on this mission ... because the police officers are dying," Rosalyn said shyly in a brief exchange with Sheriff Joe Lopinto, after embracing him and roughly a dozen of his deputies. "And I wanted to do something about it."
As Lopinto presented her with a birthday cake, a stuffed animal and other presents, he said, "Well, you know what? We're not all dying. We're here to hug you every single day, and we appreciate you being here."
The 8-year-old's hugging campaign has captured headlines around the country. Her mother, Angie Baldwin, said her daughter plans to keep squeezing until at least one police officer in each of the remaining 25 states has embraced her.
Baldwin said her daughter became worried about the kids of the officers who were killed and injured in Dallas and Baton Rouge just days apart in July 2016. It also unnerved Rosalyn to think her godfather could be in the line of fire any time he goes on duty.
The hugs symbolize Rosalyn's appreciation — and her earnest wish that the relationship between police and the public improves, she and her mother have said.
"Thank you for making her feel so special," Baldwin told the officers who hugged Rosalyn. "She really does love all of y'all. Just know that she prays for you all every night."
East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux earlier this week awarded a sheriff's hat and "challenge coin" — a special coin bearing the organizatio…