Boy collects more than 1,000 police and fire patches as a tribute to his heroes

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A 12-year-old boy's interest in first responders grows into quite a collection. He's paying tribute to his heroes from metro Detroit and all over the world.

"I'm kind of just a normal kid that has a thousand patches," Derrick Newman said.

But the reason why Derrick of St. Clair Shores started collecting patches at the age of 10 makes him extraordinary.

"Because I want to be able to help people," he said. "Possibly save some lives."

Derrick has always wanted to be a police officer or a firefighter.

"I think it's pretty cool he wants to follow in his grandpa's footsteps," said his father Steven Newman.

Derrick became fascinated with the different department's patches - and asked his dad if he could start collecting them.

They would travel to police stations and fire departments all over the state, requesting a patch. Many have a story behind them like the Detroit Police Special Operations patch. It's how Derrick got his beloved dog Clint.

"There is a police officer who saved my pit bull from a chop shop," Derrick said.  "And the dog is the nicest do you will ever meet. That division saved him and they named him after the officer who cut him off the cable."

When Derrick started a Facebook page, the patches started pouring in from all over the world.

"All of a sudden he was getting way more mail than we did," said dad Steven. "And I said that's okay because that means we are not getting bills."

"It is kind of crazy sometimes," Derrick said. "I'm like I can't believe these are all mine."

But he doesn't keep them all to himself. Derrick and his dad have sewn the badges on to blue banners. They display them at the funeral processions of fallen officers and firefighters.

Most recently they did at the funeral for Detroit firefighter Kevin Ramsey, who died of a heart attack after battling two fires. It started when the Dallas police officers were killed in the line of duty. One of the officers was from Southfield.

"Just to show support," Steven said. "My dad is a retired police officer; I have uncles that are retired firefighters, so it is a big deal."

Derrick cherishes all of his patches holding each as his own badge of honor. And it sounds like his collection is far from complete.