Community vigil for Milwaukee Officer Jerving: 'Thank you, Pete'

As Milwaukee mourns fallen Officer Peter Jerving, a vigil at Silver Spring Church of God made the community's love for him clear Friday, Feb. 10.

The church is just down the street from Police District 4, where Jerving worked. Fellow officers, firefighters, people who knew Jerving and community members gathered.

"Gone too soon…I get a little emotional," said Frank Balistieri. "I wish you were still here. I could always count on him."

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For a man who was always there for others, a room was filled for Jerving. The 37-year-old died in the line of duty Tuesday morning after a shootout with a robbery suspect near 14th and Cleveland.

"This is their grieving process to say, ‘Hey, farewell, thanks for serving our community,’" Balistieri said.

As a retired officer himself, Balistieri still carries his badge and, now, the grief for an officer who is no longer here.

"We hit it off just like that, just like that," he said. "I consider him like one of my own sons."

Jerving's absence in the pews was almost a presence in itself, and so was the love. His obituary calls him silly, charming, playful and dedicated to his family and his job. 

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"We can always still talk to him," said Balistieri. "What I would say is, ‘Thank you, Pete, for walking with me…and I’ll miss you so much.'"

Along with a celebration of Jerving's life, the community pleaded for peace and renewed efforts to stop gun violence.

Community activist Tracey Dent, who helped organize the vigil, said it was part of the healing process and lets the police and Jerving's family know they are supported.