Today the Starfish steering committee, Dr. Arnon Reichers, Mary Morgan Frederich, and I, met with the delightful Officer Edward Chung from the Columbus Police Department. Ofc. Chung works in the 19th Precinct, which is one of the highest crime areas of Columbus. Interestingly, he also works with our beloved Ofc. McClain.
I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Ofc. Chung last year when he came to my work to give a presentation on his experiences as an Asian-American police officer. He is very kind, dedicated, and caring, and he made a huge impression on me. When I met him, he'd saved 25 people who had overdosed by using Narcan to combat the effects of the opiates. It's now 35 people. He and his colleagues also saved a family from a fire that the officers discovered while they were on a traffic stop and arresting someone in a completely unrelated event.
I emailed him about Starfish on Monday evening, and by the next morning he responded to me, telling me he'd be happy to meet with us. Tonight he graciously gave us an hour and a half of his time, answering every possible question we could pose to him, and in the process helped us craft our path forward.
He gave us a list of the four precincts we should target in Columbus, but gently told us that perhaps we should focus on one for right now, and later we can expand as we become more established. He promised to help us get in touch with people at his precinct, and you know what? About an hour after our meeting ended, he called me back to tell me that he'd already spoken to his sergeant about us. We were welcome to come to their roll call next week--Friday--and give a five minute presentation to the second shift officers about what we're hoping to accomplish.
Ofc Chung also invited the three of us to ride with him or other officers in his precinct so we can get a feel for what the needs of the area might be. I jumped right on that opportunity, and he was able to get my ride along approved by his sergeant for August 26.
Ofc. Chung also advised us to be patient. He said that we're a brand new charity and that we need to let it take time to grow and become established. Frankly, I needed to hear that. It was almost as if he were giving us permission to relax a bit. I don't feel right if I don't come home from work and devote some serious time and energy to Starfish, and not all of it is necessary or productive.
It was a fantastic meeting, and we now have a path forward. Thank you, Ofc. Chung!