San Diego police Officer David Sisto died earlier this year. This week, his oldest son had his first day of kindergarten and while dad couldn't be there, dad’s friends sure showed up.
A couple of sergeants and an officer from the San Diego Police Department’s Northeastern Division who worked closely with the late officer arranged to take his son, Jameson Sisto, 5, to his first day of kindergarten at James Duke Elementary School in Ramona.
The SDPD posted the photos of the special school drop-off on social media, writing: “Officers held Jameson’s hand as he walked to class and met his classmates. The Sistos will always be family to the San Diego Police Department."
The photos show a smiling Jameson and his mom, Sheena Sisto, huddled with David Sisto’s colleagues, and the family walking toward an SDPD vehicle.
SDPD Capt. Mike Holden told NBC 7 the family was driven to school in the SDPD SUV by Sisto’s Northeastern Division colleagues and friends Sgt. Eric Cooper, Sgt. Scott Holslag and Officer Chuck De La Cruz.
The moment was special for everyone involved.
“They’re family to us, so we stay connected,” Holden said. “This is one other way that we show that we’re here for them and that they’re family to us.”
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Holden said the sergeants keep in close touch with the late officer’s family. Last month, they invited the Sisto family to a BBQ and came up with a plan to surprise Jameson with a ride to his first day of kindergarten.
The big day came this week, as many children across San Diego County went back to school.
Holden hopes the kindergartener felt the love and support from the department.
“We all have families,” Holden told NBC 7. “We’re very sensitive to loss within our own family. That carries over to supporting each other.”
Holden said the sergeants and officer walked Jameson into school alongside mom.
“They were there for them,” the captain added.
Officer David Sisto’s widow, Sheena Sisto, also spoke with NBC 7 about the touching moment.
She said Jameson certainly felt the love on his big day.
Sheena Sisto said her kindergartener was a bit shy when he first saw the officers waiting for the family in front of their home in Ramona. But the boy knows them all personally because to him, "these are dad's friends."
Sheena Sisto said the SDPD uniforms and cars likely reminded her little boy of her husband’s memorial services because when David Sisto died in February, the SDPD drove the family to the services in marked police cars.
“I think he was a little sad because of that,” Sheena Sisto said.
After a little of the shyness subsided, Sheena Sisto said Jameson began checking out the gadgets in the SDPD vehicle and enjoyed the ride to school.
She said her other son was excited too, looking out the window during the cool cruise.
Sheena Sisto said the officers gave the boys some SDPD badge stickers and Jameson was able to take some to his classmates.
For the mom experiencing the milestone of seeing her son off to kindergarten without her husband, the support was powerful.
“It’s a reminder, again, of how big an impact he had on people,” Sheena Sisto said.
She said she thinks her husband would’ve been appreciative of the sweet gesture from his law enforcement family.
“He’s probably looking down going, ‘Oh, you’re doing all this for me? I’m just a B cop,’” Sheena Sisto said. “But he would’ve definitely felt it was the right thing to do and he would be super grateful just knowing he really did make some great friends that were also his colleagues.”
This wasn’t the first time the SDPD has come through for the Sisto family.
Sheena Sisto said officers from the Northeastern Division are constantly checking in on her family, offering to run errands for her and fix things around her home.
“They call all the time, ‘Hey, we’re at Costco, do you need anything? Do you need us to come clean up your yard?’” she told NBC 7. “We’ve been super grateful, in spite of the sadness.”
Sheena Sisto said Jameson’s second day of school – without officers in tow – was a little harder than the first.
“There were less adults, so it was tough. He said, ‘I think it’s just the mommies and the daddies today.’ I started tearing up as we walked to the gate at drop-off,” she added.
But Jameson can look forward to more drop-offs with dad’s friends in the future.
Sheena Sisto said her late husband’s colleagues told her they’d do this for Jameson for each first day of school as he grows up – and they even offered to drive him to prom, though she noted he will be well into his “I’m too cool” teenage years by then.
“I’d like to see that though,” she said with a laugh.
SDPD Officer David Sisto, 39, worked with the police department for a decade up until his death on Feb. 2, 2021. He was also a U.S. Marine.
That day, he went into medical distress while on duty in the Carmel Mountain area.
The following week, the SDPD held a procession for the officer before he was laid to rest in Sorrento Valley.