The New Castle County Police academy building will be renamed to honor the life of fallen officer Lt. Joseph L. Szczerba.
New Castle County council unanimously approved the renaming Aug. 21. A dedication and renaming ceremony is planned for Sept. 16, on the one-year anniversary of Szczerba’s death, said Fraternal Order of Police President Michael Zielinski.
“We feel strongly that this is the right thing to do,” Zielinski said. “We can pay respect and remembrance for years go come.”
Szczerba was stabbed Sept. 16, 2011. Police arrested David Salasky, the man who he was attempting to take into custody at East Roosevelt Avenue and Fithian Drive in New Castle, and have charged him with murder.
The force’s primary public safety building is named for Cpl. Paul Sweeney, who succumbed to injuries he received in a car crash while on duty in 1972. Before Szczerba’s death last year, Sweeney was the last county officer to die as a result of serving in the department.
Szczerba joined the county’s police force in 1994 and graduated from the police academy in 1995.
He worked for five years in the patrol division before being assigned to the Criminal Investigation Unit and then to the Research, Development and Inspection Unit.
In 2008, Szczerba was promoted to sergeant and assigned to “E-Squad” as a patrol supervisor.
On the night of Sept. 16, 2011, Szczerba responded to back up other officers up who were searching for a disorderly subject in the community of Penn Acres. Police said that the man was suspected of stealing items from a vehicle.
The suspect, Salasky, had been chased by the owner of the car he was attempting to steal from, who he then assaulted, according to police reports. Szczerba saw Salasky, who matched the suspect’s description, and after a brief foot chase, the two struggled. Salasky fatally stabbed Szczerba during the struggle, police allege. Salasky has since been indicted on several charges, including first-degree murder.
All members of county council voted to back the resolution renaming the academy building for Szczerba.
Szczerba was promoted to the rank of lieutenant following his death. He worked to earn his master’s degree while serving on the force.