Rally aims to show support of local police officers

A local pastor and police chaplain is hoping area residents come out in great numbers to show their support of Dayton area police officers.

A “Back the Blue” rally at Moraine Heights Baptist Church is the work of the Rev. Patrick Dell’Aria, the church’s pastor for the past four years. Dell’Aria got the idea for the May 23 event from his work as chaplain for Miami Twp. Police Department in recent months as the nation placed a greater on police brutality.

“There are officers that make criminal decisions, but the majority of the police officers in the world are not criminals and I believe at times they get demonized as that,” he said.

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During ride-alongs with Miami Twp. officers, Dell’Aria said he has heard the sentiment that the community is pushing away from them and believes they are doing more harm than good. The officers also sometimes worry that one bad decision may cost them a decades-long career.

“A lot more than you could imagine are looking to maybe get out of being police officers,” he said. “A bunch of departments are hiring because there’s a lack of officers and a lot of it is because these guys are retiring early.

“They’re getting out of it because they feel it’s a tough culture to be a part of.”

Dell’Aria said he organized the “Back the Blue” event to show officers that there still are a a large number of people who support police departments, and approached Miami Twp. Police Chief Charlie Stiegelmeyer to speak with area police chiefs earlier this month.

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Stiegelmeyer reached out to Moraine, Miamisburg, West Carrollton and Germantown police and the Washington Twp. post of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office “because this is all a part of our community,” Dell’Aria said.

“The police officers all around us need to know that we support them,” he said. “If it was up to me, we would do this on a national level, but unfortunately, a lot of churches don’t want to get involved with this stuff because they feel it demonizes a group of people. But I think it supports everybody by doing that.”

The 11 a.m. May 23 event at Moraine Heights Baptist Church, 5661 Munger Road, will include a tribute video, songs, guest speakers and a sermon about supporting the police, Dell’Aria said.

Following the service, police officers and their families will have a dinner provided by area businesses.

“That’s the whole idea here is to show the officers that the community supports them,” Dell’Aria said.

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