ST. MARYS — City of St. Marys Police Officer Brett Herzing was among three front-line first responders featured in “Faith,” the magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Erie’s February edition, “Called to Serve: An Example of Faith on the Job.”
The documentary zooms in on a firefighter, EMT and police officer in the region, all who discuss how their faith helps them face and overcome the challenges they encounter on the job.
COSMPD Chief Tom Nicklas said the director of the documentary, Vince Dragone, called him in October of last year with a request to interview an officer on this very topic. Herzing, he said, stepped forward.
Herzing starts the interview off by saying that if it weren’t for his late mother, who died eight years ago, he would not have the strong faith base that he does today. He turns to his faith, he says, when problems come his way.
St. Marys is a special place to Herzing –one where he feels respected as a police officer –an “everybody knows everybody” town that luckily doesn’t encounter many “big city” problems.
“We have good citizens here who want to do good and to help us,” he said in the documentary. “It’s a town where if you need help, someone is going to help you.”
Herzing noted that he works nightshift, especially thanking his wife, who tucks the kids in at night and ultimately “has the harder job.”
As the documentary goes on, Herzing recalled one of his very first serious calls as a police officer, where he arrived on scene for reports of an unwanted person, which unexpectedly turned into a scuffle between the suspect and police.
It was Herzing’s first real hands-on situation with a person who set out to hurt police. Multiple threats made toward Herzing and his family from the suspect, he said, were “very eye opening.”
Even then, Herzing says that morning he went home and prayed for the man, hoping that at some point in time, he would reach out and get the help he needed.
The documentary also tells the stories of Marielle Lafaro, Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) with EmergyCare in Franklin Township, and Jill Staaf, captain of the Meadville Central Fire Department.
Lafaro refers to becoming an EMT as “a direct mission from God.”
EMTs encounter calls that are “very dark,” she says, referring back to her faith for making it through the difficult days of encountering so much pain and suffering.
Staaf, who was raised Catholic and grew up in Erie, details having struggles in finding the right church community, and the significance of truly connecting to the right one.
Chief Nicklas said the COSMPD is thankful to the Catholic Diocese of Erie for the opportunity to speak for law enforcement officers.
“Herzing, as you see in the documentary, is an outstanding example of many of our police officers whose faith supports them in processing the experiences that first responders must encounter,” he said.
Herzing concludes the interview by saying he believes his Catholic faith has made him an “exceptional and positive” person.
“You’re not going to get everything you want. It’s not about that,” he said. “It’s simply what I referred to earlier — (having) that friend, that guardian angel; it’s somebody who’s there all the time.”
To view the documentary, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xdgjGOVKbQ.