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Ohio Lights Up Blue To Show Support For Police

A tribute to two Westerville Police officers killed in February 2018.
Otterbein University
A tribute to two Westerville Police officers killed in February 2018.

Buildings and neighborhoods across the state will shine a blue light Wednesday evening as part of the Light Ohio Blue campaign. The effort coordinated with businesses, municipalities, and private citizens to change exterior lights to blue bulbs to show support for law enforcement. 

A cruiser caravan will make its way through the state, kicking off at Easton and making its way past the interstate sign dedicated to fallen Westerville Police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli. The officers were killed in February 2018 while responding to an emergency call.

Light Up Blue founder Bill Swank says the annual event exists in part to honor those who died during duty.

"We've had a lot of law enforcement killed in Ohio," Swank says. "Unfortunately, even in Central Ohio where the campaign first started, we've lost six officers in the four years of the campaign."

Menor Police officer Mathew Mazany and Cleveland Police officer Vu Nguyen also were killed in 2018.

Otherwise, Swank says, the blue bulbs act a visible sign of support for law enforcement. 

While many have criticized law enforcement in Columbus, from the dissolution of its Vice Unit to the deaths of unarmed civilians, Swank says the effort is not meant to be combative.

"This is not supposed to sway or change any perceptions, only to allow a conduit for people to show support," he says. "This isn’t meant to trump anyone else’s campaign or any other efforts that any other organization is doing. We would like to be in cohesion with other campaigns.”

On Wednesday, Light Up Blue is observing Police Memorial Day by encouraging community members to wear blue in honor of fallen officers. The event concludes on Thursday.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.