Families of fallen officers honored at breakfast

Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 hosted its annual FOP Survivors Christmas Breakfast last Friday morning

Honoring the fallen: Police Commissioner Richard Ross (from left), Jimmy Binns, CEO and president of Hero Thrill Show, and FOP president John McNesby took part in festivities at a breakfast honoring families of fallen officers.

Last Friday morning, Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 hosted its annual FOP Survivors Christmas Breakfast at 11630 Caroline Road in the Far Northeast. The breakfast, organized by the FOP and attorney and Hero Thrill Show president and CEO Jimmy Binns, has brought together the families of officers lost in the line of duty since 2008.

The event was once tailored only toward Pennsylvania police officers families, but this year multiple families of officers from Delaware were in attendance as well. In years past, the meals were delivered to each family via motorcycle caravan, but the amount of families has grown so it is now broken up into two days and held at Sunnybrook Golf Club in Montgomery County one day and FOP Lodge 5 the other, said Binns.

“It was just an idea that popped into my head,” he said. “It’s just to show a token of our respect and admiration for the service of their loved ones and to let them know we will always remember their loved one, his service, their sacrifice and them.”

FOP president John McNesby is also responsible for organizing the breakfast and baskets given to each family, but stresses how no matter the time of year, they can ask the FOP for assistance.

“It’s not only during the holidays that we take care of them, it’s all through the year. Whatever their needs may be, they just pick up the phone and we’re there for them,” said McNesby. “Once the lights and once the papers and everybody in the press go away, we’re still there for them.”

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross agreed with McNesby and shared their admiration of the strengths of these families in trying times.

“Holidays and birthdays have to be some of the most difficult times you can imagine. Despite that, they somehow get through it, I don’t even know how sometimes,” Ross said. “I admire their strength and their resolve.”

Ross added how he was in line to get food at the breakfast when a specific encounter with a widow embodied how powerful it is there.

“You know, commissioner, this line is getting way too long.” Ross agreed with her.

The families in attendance were related from the following officers dying in the line of duty in recent years.

• Gary Skerski, the 15th Police District community relations officer shot to death in 2006 during the armed robbery of a Northwood bar.

• Chuck Cassidy, who was shot to death in the fall of 2007 after he interrupted an armed robbery at a West Oak Lane Dunkin’ Donuts.

• Stephen Liczbinski, who was shot to death in May 2008 in Port Richmond while trying to apprehend bank robbers.

• Highway Patrol Officer Brian Lorenzo, a Somerton resident who was killed by a drunken driver while riding his motorcycle from work after a shift July 8, 2012.

• John Pawlowski, who was shot to death in February 2009 during a dispute between two men at Broad Street and Olney Avenue.

• Timothy Simpson, a Holme Circle resident who was killed in Port Richmond in November 2008 when his squad car was struck by a stolen car whose driver was eluding police.

• Officer Isabel Nazario, who was killed by a teenager who stole an SUV and hit her car in September 2008.

• Andrew Stackwicz, a 22nd Police District sergeant and East Torresdale resident who died of a heart attack in October 2008 sometime after a foot pursuit in North Philadelphia.

• Patrick McDonald, of Morrell Park, who was shot to death in North Philadelphia in September 2008.

• Officer Moses Walker Jr., who was shot and killed on Aug. 12, 2012, after finishing his shift in the 22nd District.

• Officer Robert Wilson III, who was shot and killed on March 5, 2015 inside of a GameStop in North Philly during an attempted robbery.

• Cpl. Christopher Milito, a Delaware River Port Authority officer killed on Jan. 16, 2010 after being stuck by a car on the Walt Whitman Bridge.

• Joseph L. Szczerba, a New Castle County (Delaware) Police Department lieutenant who died of a stab wound to the neck while struggling with a suspect September 2011.

• Officer Raymond Diaz, who died of injury complications after a car accident in North Philadelphia in 2016 while on duty.

• Pennsylvania State Trooper David Kedra, who was accidentally shot and killed by a state police firearms instructor in September 2014.

• Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen Ballard, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in a Wawa parking lot near Bear, Delaware in April 2017.

• Delaware State Police Sgt. Rodney H. Bond Jr., who died unexpectedly near his home on Nov. 24, 2017.

After the breakfast, the families of Pennsylvania State Troopers John Miller, Paul Richey, Blake Coble, Bryon Dickson and Cpl. Seth Kelly were provided with dinners delivered by the Pennsylvania State Police. ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com