Sgt. Vince Giacolone credited with launching community police program
After a successful career as a partner in a health care management consulting firm headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, 59-year-old Vince Giacolone wasn't about to take it easy. After a little research, the Missouri native packed his bags and headed to the University of Missouri in Columbia and entered the Law Enforcement Training Academy.
"I always wanted to be a police officer," Giacolone said. "You could say that policing has always been in my blood."
In looking into a new career as a crime-fighter, Giacolone told the Daily News he found out that it was not so rare to have a 60-something entering the force.
"They've trained older folks than me," he said with a smile.
In December 2008, the newly-commissioned police officer hit the streets of Rolla as a member of the Rolla Police Department (RPD).
"I was a road officer for awhile before (RPD) Chief (Mark) Kearse asked me to head up the newly chartered Volunteer In Police Service (V.I.P.S.)," Giacolone said.
V.I.P.S. is a national program which began in 2002 in response to President George Bush's call to service in light of 9/11. V.I.P.S. chapters are connected to 2,200 police departments across the nation.
When Giacolone took over the Rolla V.I.P.S., it had been already been chartered but had not been launched.
It wasn't long before he and the volunteer team got police cars on the street with the V.I.P.S. logo emblazoned on them. A three-month training program was formed and the community police effort was making the rounds around town.
"We developed a program where we check on homes of residents who are on vacation," he explained. "We have a bike team who rides the Acorn Trail; we patrol the schools in the morning and afternoon and help with public functions such as parades."
Right from the start Giacolone knew the job was a perfect fit.
"With my marketing and public relations background in my years in the corporate world, I felt very qualified," he said.
Not only did he take over the leadership role at V.I.P.S. but he said he also helps out with RPD's fundraising efforts with the Special Olympics.
"At first, V.I.P.S. was about 75 percent of my work; over the last several years my work has been 50 percent V.I.P.S. and 50 percent other community work. It has become an extremely strong program throughout the city," Giacolone.
Giacolone, who became a sergeant in 2012, couldn't say enough about the dedication of the numerous volunteers.
"These are retired folks who go above and beyond to serve the community and the police department," he noted.
RPD Sgt. Ken Nakanishi will take over the leadership reigns at V.I.P.S. Giacolone said the program will be in good hands.
When asked if he will miss his work with RPD and V.I.P.S., Giacolone told the Daily News yes, with a caveat.
"I am going to keep my status as a reserved officer; so I can come back if needed."