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Disabilities kept him from working in law enforcement. But now, he's the 'heart' of a sheriff's office

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Posted at 1:27 PM, Oct 08, 2019

BEL AIR, Md. — It's the same task every day.

"I empty all the trash on the second floor and then the trash in the third floor," Jack Guercio explained.

But the 77-year-old is far more than a custodian at the Harford County Sheriff's Office in Maryland.

"I think it's 27 years now. Right, Jack? Somewhere around that," said Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler. "Anybody who goes out there and puts their life at risk, Jack has the utmost respect for them, and he's part of the team."

Guercio's respect dates back to his childhood.

"When I lived in Baltimore City, I actually played sheriff when neighbor's kids played bad guys," Guercio said.

But while others grew into careers in law enforcement, Guercio's disabilities left him on the outside looking in. He landed his dream job with the sheriff's office in the early '90s.

The best part of working at the sheriff's office?

"Hanging around talking to the deputies," Guercio said.

Badges and patches became Guercio's passion, and law enforcers and firefighters from near and far have contributed to his collection.

"I was in Rome,” Gahler recalled. “There were three police officers, and one of them was so happy to get a patch, he reached right inside his jacket and pulled the patch off his shoulder."

But the badge that means the most to Guerico came earlier this year.

"This is the new Harford County Sheriff's badge," said Guercio as he held up the shiny badge hanging from a holder about his neck. "This is usually what the deputies will wear."

"That badge has been personalized for him,” the sheriff said. “He's the heart of our operation."

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and Guerico is an example of how people with different abilities can make a difference, said Joe Hughes.

"You can see the passion in Jack,” said Hughes, the director of employment services for the Arc Northern Chesapeake Region. “You can see the dedication from the sheriff, and that's what we want for all of our individuals that we support through the Arc NCR. He is a part of the team."

And he can't foresee a time when he'll be ready to retire.

"I'm not going to walk away from this," Guerico said. "They're all like family."

This story was originally published by Jeff Hager on WMAR.