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Back to Archives | Back to August 2011 Contents 

In Memory of Chief Joseph S. Dominelli, 1917–2011; IACP President, 1979–1980

Joseph S. “Joe” Dominelli, a
past president of the IACP,
died June 29, 2011. He was 93.
Photograph courtesy of the
New York State Association of
Chiefs of Police

oseph Dominelli was born in Schenectady, New York, on August 11, 1917. Son of Joseph and Madeline Campachero Dominelli, he attended Mount Pleasant High School and, in 1939, married his wife, Florence. In 1943, Dominelli was drafted into the U.S. Army and on June 6, 1944, he went ashore on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. After being wounded and being returned to his unit, Dominelli received his most serious wounds in Germany later that year. In 1945, he was honorably discharged at the Thomas M. England General Hospital and returned home with three purple hearts and three bronze stars.

In 1947, Dominelli joined the Rotterdam, New York, Police Department, becoming the seventh police officer at the agency. He immediately became involved in the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and the Police Conference of New York (PCNY). Eventually, he was elected as president of the Rotterdam PBA and vice president of the PCNY.

In December 1963, Dominelli became the chief of police in Rotterdam. He quickly became involved in the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and the IACP. According to the Daily Gazette (Schenectady, New York), some of Dominelli’s most cherished work was leading the state association, where he took personal responsibility for a $15,000 loan to move the association to the Albany, New York, area and sustain it until it regained its financial footing.


During Dominelli’s law enforcement career, he was repeatedly elected to positions in local, regional, and statewide organizations that represented rank-and-file officers as well as chiefs. He was known among his peers as a friendly, fearless, and approachable leader. After six successful years as vice president of the IACP, Dominelli was elected president in 1979.

In March 1980, Dominelli visited in his role as IACP President with Pope John Paul II, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti. “The Pontiff has a keen interest in the debilitating problem of widespread narcotics availability,” Dominelli wrote in his editorial column in The Police Chief 47, no. 4 (April 1980). “He talked with us at length and offered his aid through the worldwide Catholic community. . . . President Carter, at a special White House briefing, emphasized developing federal strategies for an assault against arson and heroin before a group of national law enforcement leaders. . . . It is interesting to note that throughout these contacts with government leaders, we found their concern again turning to the problems of crime and criminal justice.”

Other Professional Accomplishments

Dominelli was president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police for the 1973–1974 term. In 1987, New York Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Dominelli to the State Investigation Commission, where he served while remaining executive director of the state’s chiefs of police association until his retirement in 2004. Dominelli was a founding member of the Schenectady Veterans Club and the Rotterdam Elks.


Dominelli is survived by his wife of 72 years, Florence Mangino Dominelli; his two daughters, Carol Oropallo and Jo-Ann (Gary) DeLuke; three grandchildren, Darren (Suzanne) Oropallo, Ryan (Melinda) Oropallo and Jolene (Josh) Kowalski; and four great-grandchildren, Oliver and Elijah Kowalski and Rianno and Giovanna Oropallo. He is also survived by two brothers, Ed and Ralph Dominelli, and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his granddaughter, Kara Mia DeLuke, and his brother, James Dominelli. As his obituary notes, Dominelli was a “father figure” and mentor to many.

In Remembrance

In his inaugural editorial column, “IACP—A Unified Voice,” in The Police Chief magazine (November 1979), Chief Dominelli wrote, “I want to express my personal assessment of the role for which I have prepared these past six years. I have been elected to represent you. I am not only aware of the honor, but also of the solemn trust inherent in that vote. I fully intended to exercise this trust.” The IACP joins the entire law enforcement community in thanking Chief Dominelli for his leadership and his service.

Memorial contributions in Dominelli’s name may be made to the Rotterdam Boys and Girls Club, 721 Curry Road, Schenectady, NY, 12306; or the City Mission of Schenectady, 425 Hamilton Street, Schenectady, NY, 12305.

For more on Joseph S. “Joe” Dominelli, please visit (accessed July 5, 2011); and (accessed July 5, 2011). ■

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From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVIII, no. 8, August 2011. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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