When Poughkeepsie, N.Y. police officer, John Falcone, responded to a domestic dispute call on Friday, February 18, 2011, the 18-year veteran of the Poughkeepsie City Police Department would end up giving his life to save a three-year-old kidnap victim. The child’s father was holding the three-year-old and waving a pistol when Officer Falcone arrived on the scene. After wrestling the child free from his kidnapper, a struggle for the weapon ensued and Falcone was fatally shot in the head in the exchange. The shooter then committed suicide. The shooter’s estranged wife was found dead in a nearby automobile and police theorize that the man shot his wife first, kidnapped his son and then met up with Falcone.
Falcone’s selfless act did not go unnoticed by Vector Security’s Poughkeepsie branch office; they responded by establishing a scholarship program in the fallen officer’s name to help fund the educational needs of those pursuing careers in law enforcement or criminal justice. According to Vector’s Poughkeepsie branch manager, Kim Sears, this horrid crime is somewhat atypical for the small upper New York State town, but proves that even small town police forces need to be prepared to encounter events like this.
Vector’s scholarship program has been designed to support the educational opportunities of students who plan to pursue careers in law enforcement or criminal justice, and Sears indicates the decision to draft the plan in that manner was by purpose. “What better way can you keep a hero’s memory alive? This program rewards men and women who want to serve the public as Officer Falcone did.”
According to an International Union of Police Associations’ (IUPA) spokesperson, as of the end of March 2011, 24 police officers and three federal agents were shot during gun battles with criminals. And while the number of police deaths from gunfire rose by 37 percent from 2009 to 2010, the IUPA is concerned that 2011 deaths will likely far exceed the 2010 total.