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Fallen Lieutenant Joseph Szczerba, New Castle County Police, Delaware

Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery

On September 9, 2011, officers from the New Castle County Police Department responded to a report of a subject who had been involved in thefts from motor vehicles in the area. While officers were en route to the area, they received additional information that a victim had been attempting to detain the suspect, and had been subsequently stabbed by the suspect before continuing to flee the area.

As Sergeant Szczerba arrived in the area, he was able to locate the suspect a few blocks away from the crime scene. Sergeant Szczerba approached the suspect and ordered him to the ground. The suspect refused to comply and a foot pursuit ensued. During the chase, Sergeant Szczerba deployed his electronic control device in an attempt to subdue the suspect. As he attempted to take the suspect into custody, a violent confrontation took place, during which Sergeant Szczerba was stabbed repeatedly.

Two of these wounds received by Sergeant Szczerba were to his neck and would prove to be fatal. Despite being mortally wounded, he remained engaged with the suspect and was able to detain him until additional officers arrived on scene. Shortly after the arrival of back-up officers, Sergeant Szczerba stood up, took a few steps, and collapsed unconscious. Efforts by on-scene officers, paramedics, and trauma center physicians to save Sergeant Szczerba were unsuccessful. His actions likely prevented other officers from being similarly assaulted and led to the apprehension of his murderer. Sergeant Szczerba was posthumously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.

Press Release

A man giving a speech at the Badge of Bravery awards ceremony
U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III
A man presenting a Badge of Bravery award
Stephen Szczerba (brother), Cathy Szczerba (wife), and U.S. Attorney Oberly
A woman hugging a man at the Badge of Bravery award ceremony
Stephen Szczerba (brother), Cathy Szczerba (wife), and U.S. Attorney Oberly
A group of people standing together in a row at the Badge of Bravery awards ceremony
Ed Szczerba (brother), Nancy Anderson (sister), Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Congressman John Carney, Cathy Szczerba (wife), U.S. Attorney Oberly, Lt. Szczerba's mother, Senator Tom Carper, Senator Chris Coons, Stephen Szczerba (brother), Pete Szczerba (brother), Gerry Szczerba (brother), and New Castle County Police Chief E.M. Setting