Colorado deputy pinned at graduation ceremony by officer who saved her life decades earlier

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The life of a new Colorado deputy came full circle last week at her graduation from the sheriff’s academy.

A Facebook post by the Escondido Police Department in California shared the heartwarming moment one of its veteran officers traveled to Colorado for the pinning ceremony of the new deputy, whom he saved as a baby.

In November 2000, Escondido officer Jeff Valdivia responded to a home in south Escondido to assist state parole with a search, the department said.

During the search, Valdivia found a little girl, believed to be about six weeks old, lying on a bed next to her 17-year-old mother with a meth pipe nearby.

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Escondido police Sgt. Jeff Valdivia and El Paso County Deputy Natalie Young take a picture together.

Escondido police Sgt. Jeff Valdivia and El Paso County Deputy Natalie Young take a picture together.
(Escondido Police Department/Facebook)

The department said the infant girl was underweight, and her mother struggled with drugs. Valdivia took the baby, who was a “clear neglect victim,” and placed her in protective custody.

Over two decades later in October 2022, the woman became a sheriff’s deputy in El Paso County, Colorado and wanted that officer to know she was adopted into a loving family and “turned out all right.”

Her mother found the officer, who was still at Escondido PD, and invited now Sgt. Valdivia to Colorado Springs to meet Deputy Natalie Young, the little girl he once saved.

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In a special moment, Sgt. Valdivia had the honor of pinning El Paso County Deputy Young’s badge on her uniform.

Escondido police Sgt. Jeff Valdivia pins the badge on the uniform of El Paso County Deputy Natalie Young following her graduation ceremony.

Escondido police Sgt. Jeff Valdivia pins the badge on the uniform of El Paso County Deputy Natalie Young following her graduation ceremony.
(Escondido Police Department/Facebook)

Sharing the original post by Escondido PD, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said it is honored to have Deputy Young at the department and added that her story with Sgt. Valdivia shows his commitment to service.

Escondido police Sgt. Jeff Valdivia and El Paso County Deputy Natalie Young hug during Young's graduation ceremony.

Escondido police Sgt. Jeff Valdivia and El Paso County Deputy Natalie Young hug during Young’s graduation ceremony.
(Escondido Police Department/Facebook)

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“He truly made a positive and long-lasting impact not only on Deputy Young but to the community he serves,” the post read. “The EPSO appreciates our first responders in all communities and we alongside them will always be committed to service before self.”

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