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When an officer is killed in the line of duty, it's a tragedy.
Even in Ketchikan, far from the remote community where a Village Public Safety Officer died this week while responding to a call, Alaskans here despair over the needless loss of life.
Thomas Madole, 54, died while responding to one of the most dangerous calls: domestic violence.
Leroy B. Dick Jr., 42, has told police, according to court documents, he shot Madole after the officer knocked on his door. Irritated by the knocking, Dick Jr. allegedly opened fire on the officer as he fled. The officer died just a short distance from the door.
Now Dick Jr. faces first-degree murder charges.
The community of Alaska has lost one from the good side. Madole helped people as an Assembly of God pastor before becoming a Village Public Safety Officer in an attempt to be of even more help to people. According to reports following his death, he did just that — helped people, serving as a role model to children and not only an authority figure, but a friend, to adults living in Manokotak.
Madole clearly had a passion for people, speaking to their souls as well as their condition in this world. He took on one of Alaska's most dangerous professions, that of a Village Public Safety Officer. The officers receive about 10 weeks of training and often aren't allowed to carry guns. Nonprofit agencies hire them to work in Alaska's smallest and most remote communities. They are supervised by the Alaska State Troopers. Madole had been an officer for two years, and served alone on the day of his death — another officer was out of the village for training at the time.
Madole's death is the second of a Village Public Safety Officer since the inception of the position. The prior loss had been 27 years ago.
At a time like this, Alaskans, in their natural character, want to help, much as Madole might have had he lived and another been killed.
Certainly, the shots cannot be recalled. Killing is irreversible. Tending to those left behind — Madole's family — becomes the most important response.
He had a wife and two grown children. Donations may be made to the Thomas Madole Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo Bank. The funds donated will be given to his family.
While no bank account or donation will erase the pain the family suffers, it will make responding to the expenses that come with death more bearable. To know that other Alaskans care enough to share and help them through this tragedy will give them comfort.
Alaskans will do what Alaskans do best and what Madole dedicated his life to — helping people. Because this tragedy doesn't affect only one small village, but all of Alaska.