MERCERVILLE — Mikayla Poling, 19, now Mikayla Wroten, and her husband Dakota Wroten, 20, are continuing the tradition of a family dedicated to law enforcement after marrying Oct. 14.
Dakota became a Gallia County Sheriff’s Office deputy in January of this year. Mikayla is studying to be an intervention specialist at the University of Rio Grande and the Rio Grande Community College. Both are of the Mercerville area.
Many in the community remember Mikayla’s father, David Poling, as an officer who served with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, the Gallipolis Police Department and the Gallipolis Municipal Court. David passed away May 22, 2007, while chasing a suspect into the Ohio River before encountering problems swimming halfway to Gallipolis Island.
Ten years later, David might not have been able to be physically at his little girl’s wedding, but that didn’t stop his brothers in blue from stepping in to share a dance with his daughter during one of the most important days of her life to honor his memory.
“I had no clue,” Mikayla said. “They (the officers) came to (Dakota) and asked him if he was okay with them doing that. Of course, he said yes. After the father daughter dance, Josh Wellington said he sent me the schedule of the wedding and lied a little bit because it wasn’t done and there was something he didn’t add. They were in a side room and I didn’t see them. One of the guys got on the mic and asked if they could have a dance with me. That’s when they all started coming in one-by-one. I had no idea. So when the first one walked out in uniform I was just full of emotions…It was a good surprise and feeling.”
Former Gallipolis Police Chief and current Gallipolis City Commissioner Roger Brandeberry, Gallia Sheriff’s Office Deputy James Pratt, Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Marvin Pullins, Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin, past Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper and current Meigs EMS Director Robbie Jacks and Gallipolis Police Sgt. Adam Holcomb all took part in the dance.
“The guys that came and danced with me probably have been the ones to be there the most since Dad passed away,” said Mikayla. “They’ve stuck around and been there even in times I didn’t know that they would be there. It was really special for them to be there when he couldn’t. There wasn’t anybody there that didn’t have tears flying.”
Dakota said the moment he decided to join law enforcement was when he and his wife visited Washington D.C. as part of law enforcement memorial events. David’s name is etched upon the National Police Memorial Wall. Dakota said he felt “God working on his heart” and that he was being called to serve a role in law enforcement while sharing quietly with himself in Judiciary Square.
“To belong to an organization like law enforcement is a family, an honor and a privilege,” said Dakota. “To be a part of something that is so deeply rooted in brotherhood and the concept of camaraderie (is to be cherished). It’s always been in my heart to serve people and make a true difference like her dad did. I watched that man impact more people in life and death than you can imagine. I want to make that kind of an impact.”
Dakota and Mikayla met as children. Her father served as their basketball coach. The pair started dating when she was a sophomore and he was a junior at South Gallia High School.
“We knew emotions ran high for the family while planning the wedding,” said Holcomb. “We wanted to make sure Mikayla knew that her dad was right by her side on her special day. It was an honor to fill in for a fallen brother.”
“It was an honor and a privilege to serve side by side with Dave,” said Champlin about David when they served together in GPD. “He had a passion for public service like no one I’ve ever been around before. We could never replace Dave for his daughters, but it was important for us to be able to give Mikayla the little piece of her dad that lives in each one of us on her wedding day.”
A video was taken of the dance on social media. Mikayla said she believes the video has garnered over two hundred shares, been viewed by thousands and has been shared extensively with online law enforcement communities.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.