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Children steal the spotlight at Buffalo police promotion ceremony

The three Blake brothers, 4, 7, and 9, stole the show Tuesday at a ceremony where their father and several other members of the Buffalo Police Department were promoted to higher ranks.

All neatly attired in shirts, ties and dress trousers, the lads were invited to open the ceremony by leading in the Pledge of Allegiance. Patrick, 4, and William, 7, sprang from their front row seats, but Michael, 9, got a case of stage fright.

After some cajoling, Michael joined his brothers. Mayor Byron W. Brown rewarded his courage, urging everyone to offer applause.

Moments later, it was their dad’s turn to steal the show, though it was not of his doing. Word had gotten out that William P. “Pokey” Blake, who was being promoted from captain to inspector, will turn 58 years old on Saturday.

And so the crowd broke out in a verse of “Happy Birthday” at the urging of Detective Chief Dennis J. Richards, who served as the master of ceremony.

Blake, who got married later in life, said he never imagined he would one day be serenaded for his 58th birthday at a police promotional ceremony and be the father of four young children in attendance.

Oh, right, there was 12-year-old Catherine, who absolutely refused to join her brothers and instead remained at the side of her mother, Patricia.

And so went the family-oriented promotional ceremony with loved ones pinning the new badges onto the uniforms of those promoted.

Henry E. Baranski was promoted from captain to inspector. His son Martin pinned his badge. Scott A. Testa rose from lieutenant to captain with his daughter Lauren pinning his new badge.

Detective Craig J. Leone was promoted to lieutenant and his brother Patrick, a New York City police officer, placed his new badge on him. Officer Genevieve A. Rak was also made lieutenant with her son, Josh, pinning her badge, and Officer David K. Daniels had his fiancée, Touraine Martin, pin his lieutenant’s badge.

And for those wondering how the newly minted Inspector Blake got his nickname of Pokey, it dates back to his school days and his tardiness in arriving at gym class. The gym teacher, he said, called him “Pokey” and it stuck.

“The thing is, I really wasn’t slow,” Blake said. “I was on the track team. It’s just that my class before gym was three floors away.”