Reynoldsburg Police spotlighted in new comic book

By Christine Bryant
Staff Writer

Sketch from the new comic book featuring the Reynoldsburg Police Department, “Peace, Justice, Respect.”

Superman better watch out. There’s a group of new comic book heroes in town.

These characters may look familiar. They protect the streets of Reynoldsburg, brought to life by a collaborative effort of local police officers, students, city leaders and community members.

“Peace, Justice, Respect” is a new comic book featuring the Reynoldsburg Police Department fighting crime with the support of the city’s residents and students. As the comic book’s story progresses, the police department faces a new formidable adversary – evil, shape-shifting, intergalactic space pirates who threaten to destroy whole worlds for their natural resources.

The idea for the comic book started with Arley Owens, the executive director of Keep Reynoldsburg Beautiful, an organization that advocates for community-wide sustainability by reducing waste, increasing recycling and the reuse of resources.

At the end of a September police department open community forum, Owen approached Reynoldsburg Police Officer Tony Hines, proposing the idea of creating a comic book that would feature the department and its newly formed Community Resource Bureau.

It was an opportunity Hines had been seeking as a way to bridge any tensions that had formed between police and community. He took the idea to Reynoldsburg Police Chief Jim O’Neill and Mayor Brad McCloud, who approved the collaboration.

“I truly believe that this comic book will help the police department in our quest to bridge the gap between communities and police forces all across the nation,” Hines said. “We are very pleased to be the model for this project and look to be trailblazers in the efforts to strengthen the divide as well.”

That teamwork has extended to include Reynoldsburg City Schools, the Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department and Earth Team Green Creative Studios, as well as other community partners, Owens said.

“The overarching goal of this collaborative effort is to provide the Reynoldsburg Police Department a new fun and entertaining way to interact with the citizens of Reynoldsburg and to seek their support in helping keep Reynoldsburg’s neighborhoods and public places, such as our city parks, safe and crime free,” he said.

The comic book series also encourages residents to play an important role in keeping the community safe.

“One of the take aways being generated by this effort is to encourage all Reynoldsburg residents to follow an important message from the police department, ‘If you see something, say something,’” Owens said.

Scott Bennett, principal of the eSTEM Early College Academy at Reynoldsburg High School, said four students have assisted with the project so far – Jacob Coley, Warren Cavallero, Maria Villares and Sydney Shaffner. Additional BELL Academy students will work on designing T-shirts once the initial design work is completed.

“One of the most important aspects of STEM learning is authentic, real-world applications of knowledge and skills,” Bennett said. “This partnership gives our students the opportunity to apply skills that they are learning in the FabLab and in their early college classes at CCAD to an authentic situation.”

The first edition of the fully illustrated comic book, “Invasion of Reynoldsburg,” is being produced by the Earth Team Green Creative Studios at no cost to the police department. It is scheduled to be completed by mid- to late-March and will be published on a quarterly basis, Owens said.

The comic book will be available for purchase online in April at earthteamgreen.org and at keepreynoldsburgbeautiful.org.

Complimentary copies will be provided to the Reynoldsburg Police Department, Reynoldsburg City Schools and the Reynoldsburg and Pickerington public libraries.

“We also plan to sell the comic book at Capital City Comics and Dave’s Club House,” Owens said. “The comic book will be used to raise funds and also serve as educational material for residents of Reynoldsburg.”

Keep Reynoldsburg Beautiful will coordinate the fundraising efforts to help produce the series, with the first activity asking for a pledge of at least $10 to support the printing costs of the first edition. Contributors will be listed on the “Peace Justice Respect” comic book’s “Super Supporters Page.” There are also advertisement opportunities on the interior pages.

For information contact Arley Owens at arleyowens@keepreynoldsburgbeautiful.org or call (614) 571-7954.

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