When Poughkeepsie, NY police officer, John Falcone, responded to a domestic dispute call on Friday, February 18, 2011, the eighteen-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 Officer 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 Officer Falcone.
The 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. "Police officers know that domestic disturbance calls are some of the most dangerous types they can be dispatched to. Usually, victims and assailants are in a highly troubled state of mind and are making choices based upon the emotion of the moment. This crime, in particular, depicts how whole families can be impacted, to include both that of the child and of the police officer as well.”
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.”
Sears is also quick to reference the fact that 2011 has witnessed a large increase in the number of police officers killed in the line of duty in gunfights with armed criminals. According to an International Union of Police Associations' (IUPA) spokesperson, as of the end of March 2011, 24 police officers and 3 federal agents were shot during gun battles with criminals. And while the number of police deaths from gunfire rose by 37% from 2009 to 2010, the IUPA is concerned that 2011 deaths will likely far exceed the 2010 total. The IUPA believes that an exceedingly desperate criminal element is prepared to take a stand rather than give up to police.