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Church event shows support for the police

LIBERTY — With the theme “We Support Our Police,” more than 40 people gathered at the Shiloh Full Gospel Church last weekend to pray for and thank local law enforcement.

Pastor Wade Hartzell said he invited local police departments to attend the church’s Back the Blue Night.

“This is the first time we held this and plan to do this every year. We want our police to know we thank them and pray for them,” Hartzell said.

He said the church performs community outreach helping people in need and have worked with Liberty police to get 2,000 meals this year to local families during the coronavirus pandemic. The members also provide blankets for the Bella Women’s Center, which helps pregnant women and new mothers.

“We at first planned to send out cards to our local police departments, and then we decided to have a night set aside to show our police we support them,” Hartzell said.

He said he is concerned about politicians nationwide who are trying to defund police departments.

“We need the brave men and women who lay down their lives to protect us and keep us safe. What you do is not an easy job, and what you do today is even more difficult than you have ever done before. We stand up and speak louder of defending our police officers. We stand for you and pray for you and are united with you,” Hartzell said.

Liberty police have helped the church, which has been vandalized on three occasions including twice in one day.

Tributes not only were for the police but their families who have also made sacrifices, he said.

Police Chief Toby Meloro said he worries about his officers every day when they are out on the roads. In addition his own family and friends, he said he has a second family of 17 fellow police officers who put their lives on the line each day.

“It is so difficult for people to realize what police go through today. When I started in law enforcement (29 years ago), there was a sense of respect. Police today do this as a profession because there is something within them that they want to serve the public and protect,” Meloro said.

He said he personally had a calling from God to be a police officer as others may have callings for other professions.

Meloro said police want to work with and reach out to the public with community policing.

“We are trying to build bridges. We often deal with people at their worst but want to protect everyone. It is nice to see people supporting us,” he said.

Hartzell said it was Liberty police who helped the church get groceries to eight township families in need.

“I can’t imagine what it is like to pull over a car and not knowing what you are walking into with the state of the nation they way it is,” Hartzell said.

Jenah Ross Shank of Austintown sang “No Greater Love” and said proceeds from the sale of the song will be used to support and help local police and their families. She said a video will be out on YouTube. Shank will be traveling to Nashville to record the song.

“Back the Blue” is an America activism campaign focused on building community support for local police officers

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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