Will you support independent, non-partisan journalism?
Become a champion of local news and unlock additional benefits as a LebTown member, like exclusive members-only emails, access to comments, invitations to members-only events, and more.
Make an impact. Cancel anytime.
Already a member? Login here
As the county went out to vote last Tuesday, May 16, another vital element of our nation’s makeup was recognized in a ceremony at the Lebanon County Municipal Building – the law enforcement officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to the cause of upholding the Constitution and the laws built upon it.
The Lebanon County law enforcement memorial service is held annually as part of National Police Week, which takes yearly during the calendar week that contains May 15, or National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day.
This year’s service was organized by the Lebanon County Chiefs of Police Association, the Lebanon County District Attorney’s Office, and the local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #42. In attendance were dozens of local law enforcement officers and members of the public, as well as all three Lebanon County Commissioners (Mike Kuhn, Jo Ellen Litz, and Bob Phillips) and state Senator Chris Gebhard.
The service honored Lebanon Police Chief Aaron McCord (EOW 3/28/1890), Lebanon Police Department Patrolman Cyrus Shaeffer (EOW 2/14/1903), Reading Police Department Patrolman Michael H. Wise II (6/5/2004), South Londonderry Police Department Sgt. Sheryl A. Pierce (EOW 9/14/2013), and Lebanon City Police Lt. William Lebo (EOW 3/31/2022), as well as Lebanon County’s longest-serving district attorney, the late state Senator David Arnold.
Those who were honored
Lebanon Police Chief Aaron McCord. According to Lebanon Daily News archives, a drunken Andrew Shirk began shooting wildly in downtown Lebanon on the night of March 28, 1890. Moments after McCord apprehended him at 8th & Cumberland streets, Shirk drew a gun and fired a single shot into McCord’s right temple. Shirk fled and was later captured in Hummelstown.
Lebanon Police Chief Cyrus Schaeffer. The Daily News reported that Schaeffer died on Feb. 14, 1903, while apprehending David Shaud, who had just murdered his wife. The account says “[a]t midnight, Shaud was captured after a desperate struggle with officers, during which he killed one policeman, Cyrus Schaeffer. Bitter feeling prevails.”
Read More: In memory of Lebanon’s officers who gave their life in the line of duty
Reading Patrolman Michael H. Wise II. Wise, a Lebanon native, died on June 5, 2004, when, according to the Daily News, “a man being watched by three plain clothes officers abruptly pulled a gun and began firing.” It was later determined that Wise, who was one of the plain clothes officers, was mistakenly shot by a fellow officer arriving late to the scene. The suspect was convicted and imprisoned as a result of Wise’s death, although he was later freed on parole.
South Londonderry Sergeant Sheryl A. Pierce. According to the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police Foundation, Pierce died as the result of Hepatitis C, which she contracted in 1994 while subduing a man who was bleeding profusely. She was diagnosed in 2009, and passed away on Sept. 14, 2013.
Former District Attorney David J. Arnold Jr. Arnold was the longest serving DA in Lebanon County history. He served two tours with the office. He was an assistant from 1997 to 2002, left, then was elected to the top spot in 2006. He served until 2020, when he was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate. Arnold was 49 when he died from brain cancer on Jan. 17, 2021.
Read More: State Senator Dave Arnold dies from brain cancer at age 49
Lebanon Police Lt. William Lebo. Lebo was just a month shy of retirement when he was shot and killed while responding to a residential break-in on March 31, 2022. Two other officers were seriously wounded. Lebo was the first city officer to die in the line of duty since 1903. Lebo has been described by his fellow officers as having been practical and community-oriented, with a larger-than-life personality.
Read More: 1 year since tragic line of duty death, Lebanon remembers Lt. William Lebo
North Lebanon Township Police Department Chief Tim Knight led attendees through the service as master of ceremonies. In his opening remarks, he paid homage to the fallen officers who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
“These brave men and women were called to serve and protect their communities and did so with unwavering courage and dedication,” said Knight. “As we honor their memory today, we also honor their families and loved ones. These families have suffered a profound loss, and we offer our deepest condolences and continued support.”
Knight was followed by North Lebanon Township police chaplain Dean Cover, who shared a prayer for police with attendees.
At the ceremony, Lebanon County Commissioner chair Bob Phillips and Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello delivered proclamations recognizing National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day in the county and city.
“Today we pay tribute to the Lebanon County law enforcement officers who have fallen in the line of duty,” said Capello. “We honor their memory and sacrifice, and pay homage to their legacy of excellence and devotion to duty.”
Capello encouraged the public to recognize the ongoing sacrifices made by law enforcement officers and their families.
Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf spoke next.
In an email to LebTown, she explained why the event is held not just to honor those who laid down their lives in the line of duty, but also the serious dangers that exist to police even in our community.
“Each time an officer exits his or her patrol car, the risk of death remains ever present,” said Hess Graf. “Our local police serve daily, honorably to protect each of us.”
Hess Graf said there is no final peace in the nature of the officer’s sacrifice.
“We hold the ceremony as a commemoration, but also to remind those officers still on duty to remain vigilant,” she said. “We want our men and women to return home to those they love after each shift.”
Hess Graf also thanked all of Lebanon County’s officers and citizens for what she’s witnessed over this past year as the community came together following the loss of Lt. Lebo.
“We saw the true outpouring of love this community has for its police,” said Hess Graf. “We also saw the dedication of each police department.
“They remained on shift, they patrolled, and the officers showed Lebanon County how committed they are to keeping us safe.”
Knight closed the service by acknowledging the still-raw memories of March 31, 2022, the day that Lebo was killed.
“Lt. Lebo was a leader who would lead from the front,” said Knight. “It is evident by his actions that he wouldn’t ask his officers to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. The bravery, and courageous acts displayed by Lt. Lebo, and his officers on this day is admirable.”
Knight said that he couldn’t imagine the fear these officers had to face and overcome, and described how his heart sank when he heard the calls come over the radio while working that day. Knight said that what he witnessed from every first responder on scene that day was nothing short of courageous.
“I’m proud to serve alongside all of you in this county,” said Knight.
Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.
Do you want to see more from LebTown?
Support local news. Cancel anytime.
Already a member? Login here
Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.
Editor’s note: This article incorporates LebTown’s previous coverage.