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Criminal Justice Update

One of the Family, Forever


Paula Vogel had just turned 3 when her father, a Portsmouth police lieutenant, was killed in a crash, leaving her and her mother to cope with a future that was suddenly dark and unpredictable.
Young Paula, barely out of diapers at the time, would later learn details of that fateful day from her mom and other relatives. And she would discover something else, too: how the Portsmouth Police Department responded in her time of crisis, as law enforcement always does when tragedy strikes the family.
Now, at age 73, Paula finds it hard to believe the same department is looking after her again. “I didn’t know I was still part of the Blue Family,” she said. “But I’ve learned it’s forever.”
Lt. Norman Vogel and his partner were responding to a call at the Norfolk and Western Railroad yards on Nov. 23, 1951, when their patrol car collided with a truck hauling steel through Portsmouth. Vogel, who was driving, was thrown from the car and died instantly; he was 38. His partner was uninjured.
The crash occurred the day after Thanksgiving, six weeks after Paula’s third birthday.
In the 70 years since, she got on with the business of living — a life that has included college, marriage, motherhood, a wealth of friends, and a full-time career at Chase that continues to this day. Vogel Jones, who kept her married name after her divorce, said she always cherished her father’s memory but never dwelled on the misfortune of losing him, an outlook grounded in faith and inspired by her mother’s example.
Three years ago, however, an event in Portsmouth brought her father’s life and death back to the forefront, in turn giving Vogel Jones a deeper appreciation of his legacy, her mother’s indomitable spirit and the unending compassion of the police agency her dad so proudly served.
The catalyst was the opening of a dog park. Named in memory of a slain K-9 from the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, the park also honored the three Portsmouth police officers who have died in the line of duty, including Lt. Vogel.
A childhood friend told Vogel Jones about the opening and asked her to come down from Columbus for the day. Little did Vogel Jones know that she would become a focus of attention.
Reporters sought her out for interviews when word spread about her father. And, to her great surprise, Portsmouth officers asked to talk to her — the start of several new friendships and the renewal of a departmental commitment that began generations earlier.
“It was an honor to meet her and a privilege to hear the stories she had about the Portsmouth police,” Detective Lee Bower recalled. “She talked about her early childhood and how our guys — ‘Daddy’s brothers’ she called them — would bring Santa Claus in a police car with its lights and siren on to deliver her Christmas presents.”
Vogel Jones will always be grateful that her mother, Martha, had the Portsmouth PD to lean on.
“She was a strong, amazing woman,” she said. “She didn’t go moping around. None of this ‘woe is me’ stuff. She kept a positive attitude because she knew life had to go on no matter how hard it was.”
And life was hard. Six months before Paula was born, her mother and father had buried their first child, a 6-year-old daughter who died days after a tonsillectomy.
Then, 3½ years later, Lt. Vogel was killed.
“My mom told me that when the officers came to the house to give her the news, she collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital,” Vogel Jones recalled. “And when his body was taken to the funeral home, she cried because she didn’t want him to be alone overnight. So one of the Portsmouth officers stayed with my dad as a way to honor both him and my mom. It brought her so much comfort.”
The Portsmouth police continued to look after Paula, and every Christmas they made sure she had a patrol car full of presents. During her senior year of high school, they even gave her a plaque making her an honorary member of Fraternal Order of Police Scioto Lodge No. 33.
By this time, Paula thought her relationship with the Portsmouth police was over. She was headed to college, her mom had earned a degree and was nearly a decade into her career as a teacher, and there was soon to be a new father figure in the family, a minister from Columbus who would distinguish himself as a devoted husband and stepparent.
So it was a delightful surprise when, five decades after saying goodbye to the department, she reconnected with it.
Bower said Vogel Jones is a vital link in the department’s history and a member of the family. “She does as much for us as we do for her,’’ he said.
Officer Mike Queen has become another close friend. In May, he drove from Portsmouth to accompany her to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) in London for this year’s Fallen Officer Memorial Ceremony, where Attorney General Dave Yost recounted Vogel Jones’ remarkable story.
It was less than a year earlier that she, her son and daughter-in-law first traveled to OPOTA to search for “Norman L. Vogel” among the names of the 800 peace officers inscribed on the memorial wall.
“World changers,” she calls them.
The past three years have evoked plenty of emotions. When Queen asked for a photo of her father’s badge, she gladly obliged, unaware that he intended to use it as the model for a new badge for his K-9 partner. Vogel Jones was so honored by the tribute that she plans to leave her father’s badge to Queen when she dies.
“He’s been so good to me,” she said. “The whole department has been. They’re a treasure.”
One favorite story goes back 2½ years, shortly after she got to know the Portsmouth officers. Vogel Jones had just undergone hip-replacement surgery in Columbus and was planning to recuperate at her cousin’s house in Portsmouth. A friend had recommended that she arrange for help to get into the house, so she asked Queen if he could drop by.
When the appointed time came, however, just as Vogel Jones and her cousin stopped the car in front of the house, “here comes four or five police cruisers from one direction and a squad and a firetruck, all lit up, from the other direction,” she said.
Embarrassed by the fuss, she insisted she just needed a hand up the steps, although in hindsight she now concedes she was “higher than a kite from the anesthetic.” At that point, one of the firefighters said, ‘Ma’am, you have two options: We carry you in on a stair chair, or I sling you over my shoulder.’ ”
Before the officers and firefighters left, she made sure they posed with her for a group photo.
“She’ll always be in our police family,” Bower said. “Her father made the ultimate sacrifice — he died in the line of duty. So it’s our privilege to look out for her.
“That’s what we do — we take care of each other.”