Columbus Police Capt. Vince Pasko was found dead in his home Tuesday morning, according to a news release from the department. No foul play was suspected, the news release notes.
Chief Ricky Boren said Pasko died from a gunshot wound. Boren said he wanted to see the ballistic reports before making a final call on the cause of death.
Pasko, 51, was a 31-year veteran with the department. Family members found Pasko dead in his Upatoi, Ga., home, according to the news release.
“He is really going to be missed,” Boren said. “He was a valuable asset to the Columbus Police Department.”
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Pasko had been a patrol officer and detective. When he was promoted to captain, he was moved to personnel. At the time of his death, Pasko was assigned to support services.
The officer’s home is near Chaucer Lane in the Muscogee County panhandle. It was surrounded by crime tape around 1 p.m.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson called Pasko’s death a “devastating loss for the Columbus Police Department,” especially in the wake of the deaths of Capt. Jackey Long, who died July 8 after battling cancer, and Cpl. Keith Slay, who died in a car wreck July 30.
“It’s been a tough, tough summer for the police department,” Tomlinson said. “All of them were guys that didn’t just punch the clock. They all went way beyond the call of duty.”
Pasko was the department’s representative on the city’s Pension Board, and Tomlinson said she had worked closely with him while crafting her recent pension reform program.
Lt. Warren Dunlap said Pasko was respected throughout the police department.
“We think a lot of him, and we’ll miss him deeply,” Dunlap said. “He was just a dedicated officer. He was very highly thought of.”
Maj. Wanna Barker-Wright said Pasko helped her in the personnel division for four or five years.
“He was a perfectionist,” she said. “He was very dedicated, very detailed. He wanted things by the book. If he saw something wrong that might cause problems, he would bring it to your attention right away.”
Pasko also was an excellent supervisor, Wright said, who loved his department and fellow officers.
“He was compassionate and very caring,” she said.
And funny, said Muscogee County Sheriff’s Maj. Randy Robertson, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police.
“He was the coolest nerd I knew,” Robertson said. “He was so smart and analytical on one side and then a funny guy who could carry a party by himself.”
All of which is why news of his death has shocked his fellow officers.
“We’re hurt,” she said. “This was a surprise to us, just to hear that he’s gone. We’re devastated.”
Combined with the deaths of Long and Slay, the impact goes beyond the police department and law enforcement community, Robertson said.
“The citizens that Vince and Jackey and Keith all served have lost an incredible amount of knowledge and professionalism and personality,” he said. “The brotherhood we share is something we can’t explain to the average person.
“The brotherhood develops in those situations when we go into bad places with each other to get bad people. So it breaks my heart, but we’ll pick up and move forward and keep doing the job until we can’t anymore.”
Tomlinson said in addition to the department’s chaplain, the city will provide grief counselors for anyone in the department needing them.
Recorder's Court Judge Michael Cielinski called for a moment of silence during 8 a.m. Recorder's Court to in honor of Pasko.