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Westerville police chief thanks community, pushes to continue the legacy of fallen officers

WESTERVILLE, OH (WCMH) - Following the funerals of Officer Morelli and Officer Joering, the Westerville police chief addressed the community on Monday.

Chief Joe Morbitzer highlighted the strength of the Westerville community and beyond, thanking everyone for their support.

"We've found different ways to process this. This will not stop this week. This will go on forever and ever. We will continue on a new norm if that's what you want to call it. But, the new norm is to live the life of Tony and Eric," he said.

Chief Morbitzer said support for Westerville has come from across the United States.

"I met with a contingent from Chicago at the funeral and they apologized because they could not stay for the procession, because their inspector had been just shot and killed and they were on their way back to that funeral, but they took the time here to pay respects to our two officers, too," he said.

But, what he's most proud of is being #WestervilleStrong.

"Every town needs to be hashtag whatever town you are, strong," said Chief Morbitzer. "It was phenomenal that we have that kind of support and we truly appreciate it and I know the families were absolutely touched by the amount and outpouring of love and emotion...We will remain #WestervilleStrong from here on out."

Andrew Bruckelmeyer brought his children to the police memorial today to show their support.

"Ever since everything happened, I've been out here almost every day just supporting and seeing the change and it's amazing," he said.

Nakeshia Woodfork also came with her two young children.

"It's just very sad and disappointing that two great guys lost their life in such a horrible manner," she said.

Her 8-year-old daughter, Helana, wanted to pay her respects, too.

"Because police are the right people who helps other people. They're not bad guys," she said. "They're friendly people and they just wanted to stop the guy from hurting this woman."

It's these kinds of actions that Chief Morbitzer said they're thankful for.

Now, he said the support for Officer Morelli and Officer Joering's family will continue for the rest of their lives.

"Our liaisons are assigned to both families. They understand that that's a lifetime assignment, during the course of their duty," he said. "For the girls, it's having us go to father-daughter dances, having us show up at sporting events, we will be there."

He said city employees have been getting lots of support from the peer-to-peer group from Columbus, chaplains and the critical incident stress management team. He also thanked the neighboring agencies in the region, who have been helping patrol Westerville streets during this tragedy.

Chief Morbitzer said the memorial in front of City Hall will be taken down later on this week. Then, they will carefully catalog everything that was donated.


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