The Cleveland Police Museum is honored to tell the stories of our Fallen Officers on the anniversary of their End of Watch.
On April 1, 1970, Fred Vacha was appointed to the Cleveland Police Department and assigned to the Fourth District.
In April of 1973, the Cleveland Police Department obtained federal funding to create the Impact Task Force, which concentrated on violent crimes in designated neighborhoods. Being an aggressive officer, Fred volunteered and was accepted to the new Task Force.
On June 20, 1973, Patrolmen Vacha and John Saccany patrolled the East 89th Street and Buckeye Avenue area, where they observed a male acting suspiciously. Saccany pulled the police car to the curb and Officer Vacha called out to the male. The male opened fire on the officers striking Officer Vacha above the eye, immediately killing him. Officer Saccany was shot in the leg as he returned the fire.
The suspect escaped on foot. Back up officers arrived, flooded the area and located the suspect behind a nearby building hiding in some brush. The suspect still had the murder weapon, a jammed 9mm pistol. Graham was convicted and sentenced to serve two life sentences.
Officer Vacha was survived by his wife Mary Lou and daughter Tanya, his parents and three brothers. Services were held at St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church and he was laid to rest at Holy Cross Cemetery.