The City of Worcester has been reeling with the devastation and grief from the unexpected loss of Sgt. Derrick Leto of the Worcester Police Department, who suddenly passed away barely over a week ago.
Sgt. Leto first put on the uniform of a United States Marine to serve his country, and then again he put on another uniform as a Worcester Police Officer to serve his city and keep the people of Worcester safe. He served with distinction for 18 years on the Worcester Police Department. As Worcester Police Chief Steven M. Sargent said, “He made a difference in our department, City and community and worked hard to make our visions a reality. Sgt. Leto made great strides in creating unity among the police and community groups and partners.”
The stated mission of the Worcester Police Department is “To promote the highest level of public safety and quality of life, through exceptional police services to city residents, businesses and visitors,” and Sgt. Leto embodied that mission throughout his life.
While we are saddened by Sgt. Leto’s passing, let us celebrate him and remember him during this time of grieving for his strength of character, his decency, his courage and his commitment, which represented what is great and good about our police. Sgt. Leto epitomized the greatness of our police. And we pray his passing may help remind people, those that need reminding, of some of the basic truths, and help stop some of the vilification of the police that is going on these days in some quarters.
These are difficult days for law enforcement around the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At a time when our officers have never faced greater danger and challenges, there are vocal, powerful forces, segments of society that vilify the police. Acts of resistance and physical violence against the police are not just tolerated but sometimes glorified by politicians. Whatever one’s views are on the issue of the day, we hope people around the Commonwealth pause and reflect on Sgt. Leto’s service to the city of Worcester and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and what it represents. We hope people pause and reflect on the sacrifices our police officers make each day in their life to keep our Commonwealth safe, the sacrifice inherent in the vocation of policing. The grueling work, the gnawing stress, and the burdens and anxieties placed on family life.
When men and women like Sgt. Leto, our police leave their home each day to protect the safety of our commonwealth. There are no crowds cheering them, and they do not get their ticker tape when they return home safely. When they deploy, it’s not for a certain period of time to accomplish a particular objective. Police are on deployment every day of their service, and our police don’t have a final victory in their fight against crime. No matter how great the achievements are on any day, the next day, our officers put on the badge and do it all over again.
It takes a special kind of courage and commitment to be a police officer, and Sgt. Derrick Leto had that courage. Our officers don’t ask for thanks, but it’s time that our Commonwealth give our police the recognition and appreciation they are due, and thank them for the sacrifices they and their families make. That would be a great legacy if we could bring some good out of Sgt. Leto’s passing and moving closer to the day where the public recognizes the commitment and service and sacrifice of their guardians.
Sgt. Derrick Leto, thank you for your service. Thank all of you in blue for your service.