Organizers of a campaign initiated last spring to recognize law-enforcement officers, including those who have fallen in the line of duty, hope to expand participation among central Ohio residents.

Last May, Bill Swank, an ambassador for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, sought to honor fallen comrade Steven Smith, a Columbus Division of Police SWAT officer and 27-year police veteran who was shot during a standoff at an apartment in Clintonville.

Swank established Cbus Blue, an event in which Columbus businesses, building owners and residents were encouraged to replace their outdoor light bulbs with blue ones in memory of local officers who died in the line of duty and to honor those who continue to serve.

This year, the observance from May 8 to 15 has a new name -- Light Central Ohio Blue -- and is being held in connection with the national Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, one week ahead of National Police Week.

Swank and others are hoping people throughout the region will get involved.

"This will be our second year for the campaign," he said. "It's not just meant to honor the deceased. It's also to honor current officers and their families. It's to show support."

Light Central Ohio Blue borrows from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's annual candlelight vigil, which this year will take place May 13 in Washington, D.C.

Swank said turning on blue lights is a small task anyone from any community can take on, but it's a grand gesture for police officers.

"It's something the officers on patrol can see driving down the street, and it's important people understand why the lights are blue," he said. "It's usually not a heavy task, but it's very significant.

"We hope everyone in central Ohio will participate. That's from Upper Arlington to Powell to Obetz and everywhere in between."

The Upper Arlington Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association is supporting Light Central Ohio Blue and is encouraging people throughout the region to install outdoor blue lights to "show appreciation to all officers for what they do every day," member Philip Binkley said.

"As much as anything, it is to counter negative feelings toward police officers that have come up after some events that have occurred across the nation," Binkley said. "It's also a recognition of the fact that they have a tough job."

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