Two months after the deaths of two Westerville Division of Police officers, the department is working to get back to full strength.
Officers Eric Joering, 39, and Anthony Morelli, 54, died of wounds sustained in a shooting after they responded to a 911 hang-up call and a possible domestic-violence situation in the 300 block of Cross Wind Drive on Feb. 10.
Quentin Lamar Smith, 30, of Cross Wind Drive has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the case.
In the days following the shooting, Westerville received a flood of support from nearby agencies.
Chief Joseph Morbitzer called the help "overwhelming."
Two months later, in what Morbitzer described would be a "new normal," the division is in the process of bringing new officers into the fold.
In Westerville, the process of becoming a full-time officer can be a long one.
Officer recruits are often at the academy and in training for longer than those of some other communities in a process that Morbitzer and his team take pride in.
According to City Manager David Collinsworth, the city is in the midst of that process now.
"We've been asked if we are replacing the two positions based on the loss of Tony Morelli and Eric Joering, and the answer is yes," he said in an email. "WPD has a recruitment process that generates a list of eligible and/or qualified officers in each open recruitment and testing cycle. We are working on a list to fill the positions and continue our routine work of attracting candidates to serve the community of Westerville as police officers."
Collinsworth said "there's nothing slowing us down," on recruiting or filling the positions, and police administrators are "doing a good job reallocating staff resources where necessary to ensure the street has the coverage it needs."
For now, Collinsworth said the city has two officers in the academy and two more ready to enter in the summer, though he added that it will take some time for them to become "street-ready."
More information on the positions can be found at www.westerville.org/jobs.