Washington, DC — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Patrolman Rocco Cipriano of the Scranton (PA) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for January 2011.
On September 10, 2010, Officer Cipriano was dispatched to an apartment building responding to a family disturbance call. A mentally challenged, 15-year-old girl was seen dragging her younger sister down a flight of stairs while punching her sister in the face. The dispatcher alerted Officer Cipriano that the male witness who called in the disturbance had a pacemaker and was awaiting a heart transplant. Due to his medical condition, he was not able to intervene to help the younger sister. The female assailant came after him, and he barricaded himself in the bedroom of his apartment. She screamed that she was going to kill him for calling the police and tried to enter his barricaded room. After an unsuccessful attempt to break in, she announced that she was going to get a knife.
As Officer Cipriano approached the building a neighbor told him that earlier the female assailant was outside saying, “If the cops come, I am going to kill them.” Officer Cipriano could hear the young woman screaming incoherently from inside the building along with sounds of breaking glass. Upon entering the building, Officer Cipriano witnessed the female violently trying to enter the witness’ apartment.
Officer Cipriano needed to act quickly, knowing the medical condition of the man in the apartment. He pounded on the locked door to draw the assailant’s attention to him. When the female ignored his requests to unlock the door, he kicked the door only to discover it was fortified by 2” x 4” planks of wood. Glancing through a window, he observed the out of control assailant wielding a large knife.
Anxious to enter the premises, Officer Cipriano pushed a window air conditioning unit out of the window, in an attempt to try and gain entrance into the apartment. Outraged, the suspect wildly stabbed the air conditioner unit and shouted threats at Officer Cipriano. Eventually, the blade caught in the air conditioner unit and broke off from the base of the knife. As Officer Cipriano crawled through the window, the assailant told him she would open the door. She opened the door slightly and then tried to slam it shut. Officer Cipriano was able to grasp hold of her and the two struggled. Backup arrived, and two officers subdued the woman.
Sergeant Michael Perry of the Scranton (PA) Police Department said, “I believe that Officer Cipriano’s continuous efforts to gain entry into the residence kept the emotionally disturbed person focused solely on the police. Had Officer Cipriano delayed or waivered in his attempts, the suspect could have gained entry into the victim’s bedroom and caused serious bodily harm or death.”
Thanks to the diligent efforts of Officer Cipriano neither the suspect nor her intended victims sustained any serious injuries. The suspect was transported to the hospital for psychiatric treatment. Officer Rocco Cipriano continues to serve with the Scranton Police Department. He is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police E. B. Lodge #2.
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Patrolman Cipriano, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2011, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2012 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured online at www.LawMemorial.org and in the Memorial Fund’s 2013 calendar.