WESTERVILLE, OH (WCMH) — Doug Xides says he was walking through uptown Westerville with his Massillon Tigers sweatshirt on when he heard some yell ‘T-I-G…’, the first half of a Massillon Tigers cheer. He turned and saw Westerville police officer Tony Morelli, a native of Massillon. He said, ‘I’m Tony Morelli – I played there’. ‘You want to grab a cup of coffee’?.”
It’s the kind of story you hear over and over again about Tony Morelli.
“He’s a man of the community,” said police chaplain Jim Meacham. “Always smiling, always happy, do anything in the word for you.”
Officer Tony Morelli was a regular at the Westerville library, working some special duty hours there every week for more than 20 years. Library Director Erin Francoeur says Morelli was always kind and helpful. “It’s a tremendous loss for the library and the community,” Francoeur said.
Tony Morelli, a 29 year veteran of the force, was recognized across the city by young and old alike. He had worked as a school resource officer and could often be seen providing security at school athletic events.
Wes Elifritz, the athletic director at Westerville North High School, says Morelli had a genuine and positive personality. “It wasn’t a job to him,” Elifritz said. “You could tell. He was somebody not just doing a job, he was here because he truly loved this community and the kids in our building and loved being here.”
Officer Morelli excelled at police work as evidenced by his Officer of the Year award in 2012. But what made him such a community favorite was his community policing – meeting people and building lasting relationships.
“He was such a community person,” Meacham said. “People say ‘he’s been on this long, didn’t he want to go up the ranks to Sergeant and Lieutenant?’ He loved it right where he was. He was a people person and he wanted to be out where the people were.”