Those of you who know me personally are aware of my close ties with the Elyria Police Department. My father has served the city of Elyria for the past 30 years. And it doesn’t just stop there. My father is a cop every waking moment of the day. Everywhere he goes, both in and outside the city of Elyria, my father is a police officer serving citizens whose local governments don’t pay him any compensation. Every where my father goes he carries his badge and gun. He’s there to protect the people from evil and stand watch over everyone around him. These facts often go unnoticed and understandably so.
A lot of people don’t realize how far one’s dedication to their job can go. Yes, its true that police officers put there lives on the line every day at work. But it goes much further than this for those who accept their role as protectors of the peace. Like my father, many officers carry their guns and badges when off duty. Many police officers go on about their business paying close attention to the things happening all around them. Many of them travel with their family on vacation across state lines and choose to be on guard even when their out of their jurisdiction and off the clock. If a serious event would happen around them while off duty, whether it be an armed robbery or worse, a gunman shooting up a mall, an off duty cop wouldn’t think twice about intervening if they could help the situation. And this help extends to them putting their life on the line to protect the civilian population around them. It would be easy to write this dedication off as a way to protect their own families, but this is simply not the case.
My father is not just a police officer when the uniform is on. I can’t count the number of times I have seen my father offer his help and assistance when not in uniform. This is not an exaggeration from a proud son. I can safely say that even when not on duty, my father would put his life on the line to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
I too, have had my fair share of run-ins with the law. I can honestly say I have little respect for the police officers in the city in which I live: Kent, Ohio. It has been my experience that the police officers around college towns treat college ages kids with little respect and dignity. But I fully understand that they would put their lives on the line if things got bad. I know that they would do whatever necessary to help me in a time of need.
Officer James Kerstetter was a true hero. He, as do other police officers, chose a profession in which they can do a lot to help people and at the same time, risk losing everything. He was an amazing police officer and I since his watch ended, I have not heard a single bad thing said about him. I remember Officer James Kerstetter as a happy person. Every time I saw him he would have a huge smile on his face. He was the type of person who you could just be around and it would make you feel better. He had a huge heart and one simply cannot refute he was a positive force in the community. Police officers like James Kerstetter help the community in ways that go unseen. The police officers in Elyria are one of the few things that stand in the way of the city becoming a mess. Without the police officers in Elyria, it would be a total hell.
So next time you see a police officer, wave to them. Know that they would literally do anything to help you if you ever needed it. There are a few bad ones out there and I know that we’ve all probably ran into a few of those. But do not let the actions of a few define the way you think about them all. Next time you’re out, think of the off duty cop who could be in the grocery store with you. Think about how they would sacrifice their life and time with their family to do good. Think about how much they have on the line and how little respect they get. Think about how they might not get to see their daughter graduate high school and college. Think about how much they do to make our world a better place. Think about how the world would be if they hadn’t given their oath to the people. Thank them for who they are and what they do.
Rest in peace Officer James Kerstetter. E.O.W. March 15, 2010. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. You touched many lives and made the city a better place. Thank you for your time on the earth. Thank you for everything. You are missed.