Modesto police officer dies after having
By DARYL FARNSWORTH
BEE STAFF WRITER
Modesto police officer Michael DuFour, who joined the
department 2 1/2 years ago after five years as band director
at Beyer High School, died Saturday at his home.
DuFour, 32, had been off work for two days, suffering
from flu-like symptoms, Lt. Janelle Flint said.
"He had not been feeling well for three or four days,"
DuFour's wife, Rebecca, found him dead on the floor of
their home about 4:30 a.m., she said.
Flint said several officers have been out sick this week
with flu symptoms, and after she heard that DuFour had died
she called the others to check on them. They were all right,
An autopsy was conducted, but the cause of DuFour's death
cannot be determined until the results of lab tests are
In 2001, DuFour gave up his conductor's baton for a
police baton, leaving his alma mater to join the police
At the time, DuFour said the time-consuming music program
left him little time for family or outside activities.
"It is time to make a change and become refreshed and
reinvigorated with life," he said.
DuFour served as Merced High School's band director in
1995 and '96.
When he came to Beyer in 1996, he took over a 150-member
band that faced financial problems and tougher competition
from other high schools.
His first moves: Cut the budget and start 8 a.m. to 5
p.m. marching practices. He wore a camouflage hat and
required a "yes, sir" with every answer.
"The kids have already reacted with increased
discipline," he said in 1996, just two days into practice.
"The important thing is that it's self-discipline. If they
do something wrong, they do 10 push-ups. But not because I
told them to. They do it on their own."
DuFour led Beyer's marching band for five years. In 1999,
the band was picked to open the inaugural gala for Gov.
His students won accolades at the invitation-only Fiesta
Bowl National Pageant of Bands in Phoenix in December 2000.
The band also performed in a St. Patrick's Day Parade in
DuFour joined the Police Department on July 2, 2001, as a
recruit. He graduated from the academy at the Ray Simon
Criminal Justice Training Center and was sworn in as a
police officer Dec. 14, 2001. He was assigned to the
Operations Division and worked patrol.
He also was a volunteer adviser for the department's
Explorer Program. He was a member of the department's Honor
Guard, department spokesman Doug Ridenour said.
"He was a real nice guy and very talented," Ridenour said
in a statement.
Chief Roy Wasden called DuFour's death a "tremendous
loss" to the department. "The Modesto Police Department is
shocked at the sudden loss of this talented, aspiring young
officer," Wasden said in a statement. "He set an example as
a professional, hard-working, compassionate, mature police
DuFour, who graduated from Beyer in 1989, played tuba in
the band, said Don Doud of Modesto. Doud's son was two years
behind DuFour in school, and Doud was a member of the band
boosters. "He (DuFour) was quite a musician when he was in
high school, and he won state honors," Doud said. "After he
graduated from high school, he became a graduate assistant
with the band and then he went off to college," Doud said.
DuFour and his wife have a baby daughter, Rachel.
The Modesto Police Officers Association has
established a trust fund for Rachel DuFour. Donations may be
sent to the Modesto POA, 1300 G St., Suite 200, Modesto
95354, or call 342-6159.
Bee staff writer Daryl Farnsworth can be reached at