April 14, 1936 – Feb. 18, 2020
Niagara Falls Police Detective Joseph Fournier’s most celebrated case was "The Zinger Files."
A sting operation in which he worked with the State Police, it involved setting up a pawnshop in a Niagara Falls storefront. While plainclothes troopers greeted customers at the counter as they came in to get cash for stolen items, Detective Fournier was behind a two-way mirror, watching the transactions.
It resulted in about 30 arrests. For his efforts, Mr. Fournier was honored by the Loyal Order of Moose as New York State Lawman of the Year in 1978.
He died Tuesday under hospice care in his home in Niagara Falls from complications following a fall. He was 83.
Born in Niagara Falls, the youngest of four children, Joseph Anthony Henry Fournier was a 1954 graduate of Bishop Duffy High School. Following the example of his older brothers, who had served in the Army and the Navy, he enlisted in the Air Force and served for four years stateside.
He drove trucks and school buses after he returned to Niagara Falls. Taught by his older brother Leonard how to fix cash registers, he developed a repair business in his basement, which he operated as a sideline for many years.
At the suggestion of a friend, Mr. Fournier took the police department exam. He passed it and joined the force as a uniformed officer in 1965. He was promoted to detective three years later.
In the 1980s, he turned to solving white-collar crime and trained with the International Association of Credit Card Investigators. He worked on many fraudulent check and credit card cases with the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service.
That led to a position with Chase Lincoln Bank after he retired from the Niagara Falls Police Department in 1989. For about five years, he was director of corporate security for the bank’s Western Region and worked with law enforcement personnel throughout Western New York and Southern Ontario.
Two of his children also went into law enforcement. His daughter Susan O’Brien worked with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. His son Thomas became a Niagara Falls police officer.
“One of the proudest moments I had was when I told him I was promoted to be a detective,” his son said.
He wintered in Madeira Beach, Fla., for many years and enjoyed gardening and attending his grandchildren’s activities. One year he drove to Arkansas to see one of his grandsons play baseball in the Babe Ruth World Series.
Surviving are his wife of 57 years, the former Frances Brophy, a nurse at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center; another daughter, Kathleen; another son, Joseph Jr.; and seven grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at noon Saturday, Feb. 22, in St. Mary of the Cataract Catholic Church, 259 Fourth St., Niagara Falls.