MENTOR, OHIO – It’s hard to find the words to say what only your heart knows.
Six days after the death of Mentor Patrolman Mathew Mazany, the police chief reflected on how the department and community continue to heal.
“The atmosphere here is is very tense, it’s very solemn, everybody is grieving,” said Mentor Police Chief Kevin Knight. “It’s not unusual to walk through and find one of our civilian people sitting at their desk working with tears streaming down their face. It’s not easy.”
With his hands clasped together, Chief Knight sat next to a large American flag with a thin blue line; a line undoubtedly harder to hold when the reason behind his blackened badge is the death of one of his own.
“People keep coming up to me saying, ‘How are you doing?’ and it’s like, I don’t know,” said Chief Knight. “I guess I’ll find out afterwards. Just too busy. It sinks in, it’s tough, it’s tough sleeping.”
Haunted by a likely stream of what could have been if the man he called his coworker, friend and brother survived a hit-and-run on state Route 2 in Mentor Sunday.
“The emotions are all over the place, you know, it’s hard to describe,” explained the chief. “You have to keep thinking in my position, ‘Are we, are we doing what we need to do for our people, and for Mat’s family? Are we doing enough? Do we need to do more? How do we get beyond this? What are we going to do afterwards?'”
Pressing forward, but not moving on and forgetting the sacrifice and service of the officer who wore badge No. 72.
“For 37 years, I strap a gun on to go to work everyday. It’s not something that’s easy to understand for a lot of people. What we do out there what we have to do out there.”
But the chief said everyday this week was just a bit easier, thanks to the overwhelming love and support of the community. That support continues to grow every time he looks at the cards, flowers, flags and balloons surrounding Officer Mazany’s cruiser parked outside his window.
“It’s just not people stopping. You see entire families stopping and spending time over there and it, I mean, it’s not going unnoticed,” said Chief Knight. “It helps and it’s good to know that we have all that support in the community. You know, the community lost somebody, it’s not just us, the entire community lost.”
As one signs reads near the memorial: “When hero’s fall angels rise.”