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It was a walk the late Lt. William Lebo knew by heart.
A daily ritual that took the 40-year-veteran of the Lebanon City Police Department from his home near Southwest Park to the then-headquarters of the Lebanon police force in the Lebanon County Municipal Building on S. 8th St.
Lebo – who was just a month shy of retirement when he was shot and killed while responding to a residential break-in on March 31, 2022 – has been described by his fellow officers as having been practical and community-oriented, with a larger-than-life personality. Lebo’s personality shined through in a speech last year, when Officer Eric Sims noted that Lebo tried nearly every sort of transportation on the mile-long commute to work, except for his car, which would have taken him off the streets he knew so well.
Read More: Community celebrates Lt. William Lebo’s life and service
“He took a pogo stick, he used a mini-Segway, he took his bicycle, and he even used his mother-in-law’s scooter,” said Sims in a celebration of life ceremony at Hershey’s Giant Center last April.
As the Lebanon City Police Department gathered in Southwest Park on the morning of March 31, 2023, one year following Lebo’s tragic death, it’s impossible to say what was going through each member of the force as they began to retrace Lebo’s steps on the way to a remembrance ceremony at Lebanon City Hall, but one thing’s for sure – Lebo was dearly missed, and his impact on the force would not soon be forgotten.
“It’s surprising that it was only one year ago, that the tragedy happened,” said state Sen. Chris Gebhard (R-48) in an interview at Southwest Park as the officers departed on their walk to City Hall. “These people are heroes in our community, and the least we can do is come out and support them, and see them off on this walk.”
Leaving Southwest Park at 8 a.m., the officers headed to the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, which they traversed to the 8th Street Trailhead, before proceeding past the Lebanon County Municipal Building en route to Lebanon City Hall.
Arriving at City Hall, city police were greeted by a display of Lebanon City Fire Department’s Truck 18 and Rescue Hose Company No. 4’s Truck 20 with their aerials extended.
At City Hall, Lebanon city Mayor Sherry Capello and other assembled staff and officials were ready for a wreath-placing ceremony.
Following the wreath placing, officers, city officials, and Lebo’s family members moved inside City Hall for a remembrance ceremony. The ceremony began with remarks from Mayor Capello.
“All of you here today were touched in some way by the life of Lt. Lebo,” said Capello. “A soulmate, a son, a brother, a friend. You all bear a special burden.”
“There is no speech or ceremony that can ease your pain, but we hope that we can fill your hearts with our city’s gratitude.”
During the ceremony, Capello presented Lebo’s love of 14 years, Lora Lebo, with a posthumous Medal of Honor for the late lieutenant.
“The award we will be presenting today does not scratch the surface of how indebted we are to the lieutenant for his selfless service to the City of Lebanon,” said Capello, adding that the Medal of Honor is the highest and most prestigious award bestowed by the city upon an officer.
After the Medal of Honor was presented to Lora Lebo, Lebanon city Police Chief Bret Fisher spoke to the assembled officers, officials, and family members. Fisher explained the significance of the green and white umbrella on the podium in front of him.
This was Lt. Lebo’s umbrella, he said, one Lebo took with him anytime there was a chance of rain in the forecast. Fisher said the umbrella remained in the police department after Lebo’s passing, and occupied a spot in the former South 8th Street department headquarters where officers would see the umbrella as they left for the day. The umbrella, Fisher said, made its way to the department’s new headquarters in City Hall after the relocation last summer, and there the umbrella found a new location.
“It’s at a place where you only really notice it when you come to work and start of your day,” said Fisher. “It’s like he’s coming to work with you and a part of him does come to work with us every day.”
Fisher described an officer who loved his job, his wife, and his community.
“He would always take calls that came in at the front window if he was available,” said Fisher. “He was always willing to pass knowledge along or willing to help but with that he let you struggle or try to figure it out on your own.”
“It seemed he knew all the city ordinances and could recall using them with an example. He went home for lunch most days; he liked a good joke and he loved and was proud of being a Lebanon city officer.”
Fisher also explained the significance of the department’s walk that morning, and why the officers walked alone.
“First and foremost, to honor Lt. Lebo for being a dedicated police officer for 40 years and to reinforce the idea that the policing profession is a noble and worthy cause,” said Fisher. “Second, that this city police department is like no other and has a brotherhood that is part of all of us that have walk thought the doors of LPD and put on our badge.”
Fisher ended his speech with two remarks. The first was a plea for any officers struggling with this tragedy to find someone to talk to about it. The second was a hallmark light-hearted saying of Lebo’s whenever he saw members of the public in a public area of the department for a tour: “It’s good to see you on this side and not on the other side being arrested.”
Capello and Fisher ended the morning’s remembrances with a callback to how it began – Lebo taking one of his varied transportation modes and riding off into the sunset, through the community that he served and back home to the wife that he loved.
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