YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Anthony Maggio never met Girard Police Officer Justin Leo. But to the New York deputy — who was in attendance for Leo’s calling hours Saturday — Leo is a brother.
“It’s an honor to be here,” said Maggio, from the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department in New York. “It’s an honor to pay respect to a fallen hero.
“No matter where you go or what agency you’re working with, at the end of the day, we all have each other’s back. Through thick and thin, we’re just here for each other.”
Just this year, Maggio’s department lost one of its own officers. After the pain they went through, they know the difference family can make.
“During that incident, we had the outpouring and support of law enforcement across the country,” said Officer George Hill, also with the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department. “We had people from Canada, we had people from California, Texas — it was beautiful to see them come out and support us and understand the pain we were going through.
“So it’s an honor to come out and to wear the badge and to show them that we are one family. When you take a knee, we’ll be there to help you get up.”
Maggio and Hill hit the road overnight Friday, traveling hundreds of miles to be present for Saturday’s calling hours. Joining them were officers from as far as Texas, Montana and, of course, other parts of Ohio.
“It’s a group of people that do the same thing that’s very dangerous,” said Capt. Dave Rarrick of the Ravenna Police Department. “I think that draws us together.”
And together, they paid their respects, sent up a prayer and said one last goodbye.
“There’s a lot of hugging and people who haven’t seen each other in years,” Rarrick said. “Really, it’s a bonding and you hope you never have to come to any of theirs.”
All the while, reminding their brothers and sisters in Girard of one thing.
“Stay strong,” Maggio said. “Tell the other officers to put one foot in front of the other and keep on pushing forward to do the job.”
“We can’t go backwards — we can’t change history,” said Chief Thomas Rocker of the Marshalville Police Department. “But hopefully people see us here and they realize we are people — we are human.”
Leo’s funeral service is set for 1 p.m. Sunday in Beeghly Center on Youngstown State University’s campus. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. and everyone must be seated by noon.
WKBN will be live streaming the funeral mass on WKBN.com and on air on MyYTV.