Thank you Mr. [Philip] Stahl.
Thank you as well to the members of the Warwood Middle School Chorus for sharing their lovely voices with us today.
Thank you Pastor [Melvin] Williams for delivering our invocation today.
To Mr. [Mel] Blount, I just want to say what an honor it is to share the podium with you this afternoon. As a diehard Steelers fan who was born in 1971 and grew up thinking it was normal for one’s team to win the Super Bowl, I hope you know how much I appreciate the magic of those teams you played on. But even more impressive is the way you have used your post-NFL life to make a difference in the lives of so many young man across this country.
To Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger and the other men and women of the Wheeling Police Department, thank you for the invitation to today’s ceremony.
More importantly, thank you for what you do.
This event serves as a very stark reminder that from the moment each day when you put on your uniform, you do so knowing that whatever comes next could put your life in harm’s way. You understand that the occupation you have chosen necessarily presents risks that cannot be fully eliminated. But you also understand the sacred role you play in maintaining a free society founded upon the rule of law. We owe you our sincere gratitude for the pact you have made with the communities you protect and serve.
And as a City we have to hold up our end of the bargain. We have to give you the tools you need to keep us safe and—just as importantly—to keep you safe in doing so. We have to foster policies that drive investment and jobs into the neighborhoods we ask you to patrol. We have to work with our state, national, and nonprofit leaders to figure out solutions to the drug and mental health crises in this country instead of asking you to respond to the symptoms thereof. And we have to ensure that we are not relying on your law enforcement training to solve stubborn societal ills demanding our collective response.
To that end, I pledge to you my continued support for the Wheeling Police Department and to the men and women who keep us safe.