COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- It was a special event for law enforcement officers from all over the country to attend. By wide estimates, more than a thousand people attended the memorial service for Officers Eric Joering & Anthony Morelli in Westerville on Friday, February 16.
"When you see tragedy strike in this magnitude in this community or in Broward County [at the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School] and what that can do to just one community, it touches the entire fabric of what our country stands for," Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Standley tells News Radio 610 WTVN's West Side Jeff. Chief Standley is a WTVN listener who called in, and the show host indicates appreciation for the call. "The police job has changed, and seems to be changing or evolving almost daily. What has not changed is the dedication, the courage, the bravery that law enforcement officers use every day, day and night, while we're sleeping, those folks are out there with the most dangerous job we have as the first line of defense."
Standley is the current president of the Ohio Association of Police Chiefs, with about 450 active members from all over Ohio.
Chief Standley says he was impressed with the community of Westerville and the surrounding area, how many people just came up to him, and not knowing him, at the memorial. He was in uniform and says they just were recognizing him as a police officer, and thanking him. "I can tell you that means a lot to us," he says.
"I just urge that Westerville tragically and unfortunately be used as an example of how the real fabric of America can shine through the hate, the evil that we deal with and our officers deal with on a day-in, day-out basis."
Standley says he has attended between ten and fifteen funerals for fallen officers, including Officer Steven M. Smith in Columbus a few years ago, and the memorial service for Officer Sonny Kim, in Cincinnati, a couple of years ago. He says there were three officers killed in Logan County, killed over the years."
Those are lasting impressions on me and my staff that can make the trip over [to Westerville]. ... I stood next to, waited in line to get into the church on Friday, stood next to an officer from Minnesota who made the trek over. It's kind of hard to explain that to someone who doesn't wear a badge and gun belt every day, of why someone wold make the trip hundreds of miles to make the tribute."
Chief Standley points out life is brief, and to not forget the tragedy that can befall a community.
Standley points out thousands of police officers turn out in Washington, D.C. every year for the National Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony, and National Police Week.