Mary Morgan Frederich and I arrived at the roll call for the Columbus Division of Police Community Liaison Officers about 10 minutes early. When we walked into the room, a woman in the back immediately called out, "I know you guys! You're with Starfish."
I grinned at her and replied, "We are! How do you know about us?"
"I've been handing your stuff out ever since he [Lt Bartholow] told us about you. I recognize you from the pictures."
I was dubious so she--5th Precinct CLO Alesia Zacher--took us to her patrol car and showed us the thick stack of photocopies she'd made of our handout.
And things just got better from there!
We asked if we could speak last at the roll call so that we could talk to any officers who might have questions afterwards. Sgt Whittaker agreed and asked us to wait across the hall from the roll call room while they discussed some sensitive information. Waiting in a different room meant we got to meet some other officers and tell them about Starfish!
Sgt Christopher Smith-Hughes is with the Recruiting Unit, who work to get excellent candidates for Columbus Police. Ofc Joel Westbrook is also with the Recruiting Unit and the Exploring Senior Advisor. I'm familiar with the Explorers, as my son Rohan wants to join once he's old enough. It's the unit that allows kids who are at least 14 and have completed eight grade to be trained in many areas of law enforcement. Website here if you have kids who want to participate.
Ofc Westbrook is interested in getting the Explorers to help with large events we might have and even came to hear our presentation at the roll call. Both he and Sgt Smith-Hughes were wonderful to talk to, and I have no doubt we'll be talking to them soon.
The presentation itself went very well. There are 20 precincts in Columbus, and each one has one Community Liaison Officer. There are also two sergeants and one lieutenant. Those of you with good memories will recall that Lt Bartholow is the first CPD officer we presented our ideas to. Without his encouragement, we might have called this off. But instead, he told us it was a great idea and shared the information with his troops, which his how Ofc Zacher came to have our handouts.
We ended up talking to some of the CLO's afterwards. We saw our friends Joe Townsend (17th Pct CLO) and Brian Newsome (19th Pct CLO) and made some new ones.
Ofc Zacher is in the same precinct as Ofc Casuccio, so we have two strong supporters in South Linden. She immediately started telling us people she wanted us to meet and community meetings she wants us to attend. I have contact information for four community leaders in Linden and will ask if I can come speak at their next meetings. This is huge because we need volunteers in order to maintain and grow Starfish. To that point, please share this page and our information with your family and friends, and if you'd like to attend any of the community meetings with us, we'd be very happy to have you.
Ofc Zacher was so enthusiastic about our mission that she asked us to immediately go speak to the second shift roll call at 5th Precinct. Unfortunately, the CLO roll call was on Morse Rd, and by the time we arrived at Pct 5 in South Linden at 3:03, the officers had already left to respond to a reported home invasion. But that's fine; we'll go see them soon.
Mary and I only remembered when we were leaving that we hadn't taken a single photo. We had such a great time talking to all the officers that we completely forgot to get any!