The following was the prepared speech of Sheriff Jesse Bane at the funeral for Cpl. Charles Licato on Wednesday, as provided by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office:
To deal with a line-of-duty death of an employee is the toughest job a law enforcement executive could have. But today, this is not about me; it is about Cpl. Charles Licato and the brave men and women of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
There is an old wive’s tale that says when someone dies, a new star appears in the heavens. Knowing Charles, this would certainly please him. His only question would be, “Is it the biggest and brightest one there is.” And to Charles I would say, “It certainly is!”
Charles Licato loved his job and was proud to be a member of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. Every day, when he would get ready for work, he would put on his magic cape and his Kevlar vest with the big “S” on it (the S stands for Sheriff’s Deputy), throw open his front door and put the criminals on notice that Cpl. Charles Barton Licato was on the pike and that it was only a matter of time before he would be bringing them to justice.
Charles had no enemies; to know him was to love him. And everyone who knew him has a “Charley story.” He was one of the first deputies to ask me to ride with him shortly after I took office as Sheriff. And there were other times to follow. After my first ride-a-long, I learned that there were two things that were certain when I rode with Charles. First, that I would hear of this great idea that he had about how the Agency could operate more smoothly and secondly, that I would be picking up the food tab. (And Charles, as you know, could eat.) To the men and women of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, I can only say, though some of his ideas were good ones, when one considered the totality of his grand plan for the Sheriff’s Office, we should be thankful that Charles was not the Sheriff. And I will leave it at that.
On a more serious note, there was none braver than Charles. And there was never a finer man to wear the star. To understand the respect we have for Charles, one only has to reflect upon the day of his death. From the moment the first deputy arrived on the scene until now, we never left his side. Our deputies insisted that no one carry Charles from the wreckage to the M.E.’s Van, it had to be them. And there was no way Charles would take that fateful ride to the M.E.’s Office without them. It made me proud. What acts of courage on the part of our deputies. If Charles could have been there to witness this, he would have been proud, too. At the time, however, I am certain he was probably preoccupied, holding his first meeting, no less, with God himself, telling him about this idea he had to make the Lord’s operations run more smoothly.
For all men and women of character, there is a desire to make a contribution to society; a contribution that is so significant that they will be remembered long after they are gone. Famous writers leave behind famous works; famous men and women of medicine contribute significant medical advances to the benefit of mankind; famous generals are praised for their genius and their courage on the field of battle; Presidents pull us through perilous times with great sacrifice. Though he did not plan it this way, Charles Licato now joins their ranks. He made a difference. He gave the greatest gift he had to protect and serve the good people of Harford County; he gave his life answering the greater call; he played his part and he played it well, helping his brothers and sisters in law enforcement, both the living and those now deceased, hold that thin blue line that saves and our society from anarchy, lawlessness, and total chaos.
As you might suppose, letters, calls, e-mails and cards of condolence are starting to roll into the Sheriff’s Office. On Monday, I received a call from the men and women of the Monongalia County, West Virginia, Sheriff’s Office. In it is a note I thought most appropriate and I would like to share it with you. It reads like this:
“Heroes have run marathons to save lives
Heroes have fought wars for good and peace
Heroes have gone where others fear to go
Heroes give their own lives so others may live.”
Charles Barton Licato is a hero. In death he reserves a place in the history of this great country and this great state; a place that guarantees him immortality; a man who will be remembered long after all of us are gone.
We wish you God’s speed, Charles Licato. With your passing, you are ours forever.