With Westerville Division of Police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli memorialized with a funeral service and police procession last week, the division now looks toward operating in its "new norm."

Speaking at a Feb. 19 press conference, Chief Joseph Morbitzer said he "can't thank the community enough" and discussed the support from around the country that he said has meant the world to his department and the Joering and Morelli families.

"The number of letters, the phone calls, the donations have been overwhelming in such a good way," he said. "It's given both families strength to get through this tragic event."

But now Morbitzer and his team face the challenge of returning to police work after two of their close friends and colleagues were killed.

Morbitzer said he and his team are "keeping in mind this is still fresh," and are focusing on caring for their own.

"One of the things we're trying to do more than anything else is to minister to our own folks and really sit back and process with them, because different people handle recovery differently," he said. "Some wanted to come back to work the very next day. We encouraged them not to do so. Others took some time off."

Multiple organizations have been on hand to offer support to officers, and Morbitzer said there will be no cutoff time for those who need more time to grieve and work through this challenging time.

"We've found different ways to process this," he said. "This will not stop this week; this will go on forever and ever. We will continue with a new norm, if that's what you want to call it."

Part of that challenge will be to deal with the case as it unfolds.

Morbitzer said he would not answer any questions regarding the incident itself or 30-year-old Quentin L. Smith, who has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and moved to the Franklin County jail.

"I will not even acknowledge him by his name," Morbitzer said.

"We will continue to act in the most professional manner, as we always do, because that's exactly what Tony and Eric would have wanted," he said.

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"One of the challenges we have is to live up to the ideals and values of Tony Morelli and Eric Joering. In order to do that, we will behave in a professional manner, we will let the criminal justice system take its course and we will pursue from here," he said.

While it isn't at the top of his priority list, Morbitzer said there will eventually be an internal investigation into the incident, as dictated by protocol.

"Any time we have incidents, we always do after-action reports," he said. "We'll bring everybody in that's involved and go through detail by detail, top to bottom."

Morbitzer said the investigation would look at "the personnel, the equipment and the protocol" to determine how a better outcome could have been achieved.

"You look to see what the response was, if the response was proper, if we trained and equipped our people properly and if we have our protocol set," he said. "No matter what the situation is, you can always learn from events."

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