Poughkeepsie remembers fallen police officers

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison joined with several members of the city’s police department on Friday for a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial stone that honors three city officers that died in the line of duty.  The ceremony is held annually during National Police Week, which occurs during the week of May that includes May 15.

May 15 is recognized as National Peace Officers Memorial Day, created by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.  In Poughkeepsie, the ceremony on Friday honored the memory of Officers Otto Albertson and Raymond Cleveland, along with Detective John Falcone, all of whom died in the line of duty.  The police officers and support staff were joined by on-duty members of the Poughkeepsie Fire Department and Councilman Chris Petsas as Rolison offered a brief, solemn address, telling the officers “We appreciate what you do and we know how difficult this job is.”

Rolison is a retired Town of Poughkeepsie Detective and father of a police officer.

“This is a job that requires absolute dedication and bravery and also the ability to be what the community wants you to be, and I think that is what our police department is,” he said.

Rolison told Mid-Hudson News, “We need to stop and remember.  I hope we never have to add another name to that memorial, but that might happen.”

Councilman Petsas echoed the mayor’s words. “The men and women in this police department risk their lives to protect the city.  Paying tribute to three fallen heroes here keeps their memories alive and reminds the rest of us of their ultimate sacrifice.”

Police Benevolent Association Vice President Detective Chris Libolt joined Rolison in placing the wreath at the memorial in front of police headquarters.  “We are here to honor the lives of three brave officers that gave their lives protecting others.  Our members are thankful for Mayor Rolison, Councilman Petsas, and everyone else that gathered today to honor our fallen brothers.  We also appreciate our fellow first-responders from the city fire department who stood with us to pay tribute.”

Albertson was an 18-year veteran when he died of cerebral apoplexy just hours after discovering a fire at a tailor shop in the city.  The 55-year-old officer died on December 21, 1916.

Cleveland died on September 25, 1969, as a result of a heart attack he suffered while struggling with a suspect.  He was a 27-year veteran of the department.

Detective John Falcone, age 44, died on February 18, 2011.  The 18-year veteran was fatally shot by a man who, just moments earlier, had shot and killed his wife during a domestic dispute.  Falcone was attempting to disarm the man when he was shot.  The suspect used the gun to kill himself after taking Falcone’s life.