WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) took to the Senate floor to honor the memories of Westerville Police Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli. Joering and Morelli were killed in the line of duty when responding to a 911 call earlier this month.
Brown’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, can be found below. Production quality video can be downloaded here.
This month, Ohio laid to rest two remarkable public servants, Westerville, Ohio Police Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli.
Together, these men dedicated decades to the police force, giving the ultimate sacrifice to keep their fellow Ohioans safe.
Officer Joering and Officer Morelli were doing their jobs, responding to a desperate 911 call, when they were tragically shot and killed earlier this month.
In the days since their passing, we’ve heard stories of their incredible service to their community, their fellow officers, and their families.
Both men were married with children. Officer Joering was 39 and had three young daughters. His pastor, Reverend Hammond, spoke to the local news about Joering’s dedication to his family.
He said Officer Joering would do anything for his daughters – he let them style his hair, paint his nails. “I heard he drew the line at makeup,” Reverend Hammond said.
Officer Morelli was a 30-year veteran of the Westerville force. He had two children. His daughter is getting married this summer.
His colleagues remembered his infectious smile, and his passion for life. Westerville Police Chaplain James Meacham said Officer Morelli “went to heaven and partied.”
These two heroes were laid to rest ten days ago, with services at St. Paul Catholic Church in Westerville that drew thousands of Ohioans and fellow officers to pay their respects.
They waited in line in the cold and the rain to enter the church. Officers from around the country came to honor these men – the church parking lot filled up with patrol cars from Illinois, Texas, West Virginia, Michigan, and so many more. They had to use a TV at a gym next door as an overflow room to accommodate everyone.
After the services, a long procession of police vehicles wound its way through Westerville. Ohioans lined the streets, waving American flags and wearing blue ribbons pinned to their rain jackets.
And the tributes to these officers won’t end with that memorial service. In times of tragedy, Ohioans always rise to the occasion. A donation page for the families set up by the local Fraternal Order of Police has raised more than half a million dollars.
The city of Westerville will honor Officers Morelli and Joering with a permanent memorial in First Responders Park.
And the Westerville City Council voted to unanimously retire Officer Joering’s K9 partner officer, Sam, and send him home with Officer Joering’s wife and daughters. They were there last week to take Sam home. One of Joering’s daughters wore Sam’s badge around her neck.
Otterbein University will also offer full-tuition scholarships to each of the three Joering girls.
While none of these gestures can ever repay them or their loved ones for their service and sacrifice, today we honor these heroes’ memory and lift up the entire Westerville community and all those who knew them.
And the best way for public servants to honor them is by supporting all Ohio officers, and working to give law enforcement the resources they need to do their jobs.
From the bipartisan legislation we passed last year to speed up claims processing for the families of fallen officers, to getting local police forces the resources they need to protect themselves as they fight the opioid epidemic, we must do all we can to support these women and men who sacrifice so much.
Let’s honor the memory of Officer Joering and Officer Morelli by recommitting ourselves to protecting and supporting their fellow officers, and the families who sacrifice alongside them.