CBJ and Jet’s Pizza Celebrate First Responders Night with Columbus Police
If this whole hockey thing didn’t work out, Zach Werenski would probably have started the family business.
Of course, the Blue Jackets star is one of the best defensemen in the NHL, so in the end hockey turned out to be the right choice. But had his professional sporting dreams not come true, Werenski said law enforcement could have been his chosen path given his father is a police officer, among other connections.
At least that’s what he told a rally of officers from the Columbus Police Division on Wednesday. Officers from Police Substation 5 in Linden gathered ahead of tonight’s Blue Jackets First responders evening game to chat with CBJ’s defender via Zoom and enjoy a dinner from Jet’s Pizza – plus a visit from Stinger – to mark the annual celebration.
“Yes, 100%,” Werenski said when asked if he could have been a cop in another world. “My uncle was the police chief where I grew up for a number of years. My dad followed in his footsteps. My dad being my biggest role model, seeing what he does, how he works, I think. certainly if I didn’t play him hockey and I didn’t have this opportunity law enforcement is probably where I would have ended up. I think this is one of the best jobs in the world .
It was easy for Werenski to fit in with the group during the nearly 20-minute conversation given that he is familiar with the world of law enforcement. His father, Ken, lived it all Zach’s life, and it’s fair to say that Werenski has a real appreciation for what it takes for agents to do their jobs and do it well.
“You are doing a great job for the community,” Werenski said. “I want to thank you. My dad has been a police officer for over 30 years and I know the sacrifices you make. It’s certainly not an easy job, but it’s a job that most people know and I know the Blue Jackets are very grateful for.
“For me personally, this is my sixth season now in Columbus and I’m here for six more after that. To hear the things you do in the community, it really makes me happy to know that you are here to help the community. and make it a better place. ”
Substation 5 has also done its part not only to keep the peace in Linden, but also to reach out to the community in recent years. The speaker is heavily involved with The Starfish Assignment, a 501 (c) (3) charity that works with law enforcement officers who identify needs in the communities they serve.
Enclosure Officer Pete Casuccio is Executive Vice President of Starfish Assignment and works on its Board of Directors, and he also helped establish the Cops & Barbers program with his barber and friend Rob Cayson who helps connect the downtown youth with police officers and provide free hairstyles and back-to-school supplies.
In 2020, agents also worked with Starfish to help provide Thanksgiving meals to each family in the Rosewind Apartments as part of a program called Cops & Gobblers, and the precinct also participated in other events such as neighborhood parties, collections of coats, books and badges. readings, events Blessing bags and bicycle assignments.
During the meeting with Werenski, Lt. Justin Coleman took his hat off to the officers at Substation 5 for the work they have done in the community over the past few months.
“They’re the ones that allow us to partner up, they’re the ones that are in the community to make those connections and come up with these unique ideas,” said Coleman, “things like Cops & Gobblers and Books & Badges and some of the others events that we were able to take from idea to real life in the community and see the impact we had from there. Thank you for recognizing these officers. ”
The event also included plenty of hockey talk, including Werenski telling stories about his father’s hockey skills – or lack thereof – as well as his background in the game and why he chose to wear the No.8. Werenski also said he loves meeting the agents in person at a later date and maybe taking a tour with the group when the time is right.
It was a natural conversation because hockey is a passion for many police officers, including Commander Blake Griffith, who is a longtime member of the Columbus Police Division hockey team and helps organize a game in March that will include police and firefighters from Columbus. as well as former Blue Jackets, Chill and Ohio State players.
“He’s one of the best defensemen I think in the NHL,” Griffith said of Werenski. “He’s playing a great game. The fact that his dad has a background in law enforcement, he knows exactly the schedules and things that all of our boots on the court have to go through there. It was great for him to take the time to say hi to all those guys doing a great job for us. ”
In addition to donating the pizza to the agents on Wednesday night, Jet’s is providing CBJ tickets to first responders, who hand them out to the families they work with at Columbus Recreation and Parks to attend tonight’s game.