COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A pint-sized patrolman is winning over hearts in Columbus.

Derriion Willis was declared the “cutest cop” in town during a costume contest hosted on social media by the Columbus Division of Police.

In a pair of photos, the 7-year-old posed in a police uniform while talking into a walkie-talkie and saluting the camera. It was a departure from Derriion’s affinity for superhero Halloween costumes.

“He wanted to be Thor this year but we couldn’t find a Thor costume,” explained Derriion’s mother Ebony Coley. “So then he was like, ‘Well Mom, I could be a cop because they’re heroes, too.’”

A friend encouraged the family to submit the photos to CPD’s contest. They raked in enough “likes” to win.

“I’m so proud of him. We’ve been going through a lot this year, so this was something positive to happen for him to keep him on track,” Coley said.

Derriion’s prize was a morning surrounded by his heroes. Friday, a half dozen police cruisers greeted the family at their westside home and drove the second-grader to school at Columbus Performance Academy with lights flashing the entire trip.

At school, classmates joined Derriion in meeting the CPD mounted unit, petting a therapy K9, and interacting with the police officers.

“The last two years have been tumultuous. And so it’s our job, as a division, to connect with the community and that’s what we’re looking to do,” said Columbus Assistant Chief LaShanna Potts.

The Assistant Chief, who joined the Columbus Division of Police with Chief Elaine Bryant in early summer, has pledged a focus on police-community relations. She said small, meaningful interactions are happening on a daily basis.

“It may not make the news, but the officers here are very engaged in the community. So this is one way for us to showcase that,” Potts said.

Coley said her children have had positive interactions with Columbus police officers in recent years and she hopes Derriion’s experience Friday will leave a lasting impression.

“Since Halloween, it’s been cops and robbers every day. He’s been the cop every day,” she laughed. “Hopefully he hangs onto this and it’s something he really, really wants to do. So I’m really excited to see what happens.”

Friday morning, CPD also surprised the family by inviting them to the Division’s annual “Shop with a Cop” event. Derriion and his siblings will be able to pick out toys and gifts ahead of the holidays.