County Executive Tom Gordon and the New Castle County Police Department held a solemn End of Watch ceremony in commemoration of the late Lt. Joseph Szczerba Tuesday morning in front of the Paul Sweeney Public Safety Building.
In addition, County Executive Gordon ordered that all New Castle County flags be lowered at half-staff in honor of Lt. Szczerba on the third anniversary of his death.
Among those attending the End of Watch were County Executive Gordon, Chief of Staff Jim McDonald, County Attorney Bernard Pepukayi, Public Safety Director Joe Bryant, Police Chief Colonel Elmer Setting, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President Cpl. Michael Zielinski, several police officers from the County and other jurisdictions, and members of Lt. Szczerba’s family.
County officials remembered Lt. Szczerba not just for his dedicated public service, but for being a good person in everyday life.
County Executive Gordon recalled how, as a young Chief of Police, he personally selected then-recruit Joseph Szczerba as one of the fine candidates for the Police Academy.
“In eight years as chief and 10 years as County Executive, I never want to get the call again that went out that day, that we lost an officer,” he said. “To quote Abraham Lincoln [in part], maybe there is some solace that may assuage some of the grieving, for him having laid down the supreme sacrifice for freedom and to know that possibly his shield is watching over all of us.”
Colonel Setting said Lt. Szczerba was still missed by the Police Department.
“But, I can’t imagine how much he is missed by his family,” he said. “I will take a moment to remind you what a great man he was. Everyone always wants to focus on how Joe was a hero. He was a hero, but not because of how he died in the line of service to this County. Joe was a hero for the way he lived.”