Fresno police officer loses battle with cancer

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno police officer known for his incredible voice has died after a short battle with cancer. Michael Scholl was 59 years old. He worked undercover for the past five years in the vice intelligence unit.

Officer Scholl stood out because of his powerful voice. Before he went into law enforcement, he worked in radio. His passion in life was police work. His supervisors say he was great at getting people to talk, and he was often successful because most people didn't think he was a cop.

Scholl was given some of the highest classified jobs at the Fresno Police Department -- from analyzing terrorism threats to investigating threats against the police chief and other officers.

"If there was somebody who was real careful about thinking they were dealing with an undercover cop, Mike Scholl was the guy you need to send in there. Even though he would stand out in a crowd, he could be a chameleon," said Fresno Police Sgt. Curt Chastain.

Action News saw just how good Scholl was during an investigation into Asian massage parlors offering more than back rubs. His charismatic guy-next-door personality would land one arrest after another.

"He had a sense of humor that made you feel comfortable and a charm that would make you trust him," said Chastain.

Ten months ago, he got a sore throat and then a cough. Coworkers didn't get too close, fearing he would spread his cold. They convinced him to see a doctor, to find out he was in the advanced stages of esophageal cancer. This form of cancer can be a silent killer because doctors say it progresses fast with usually few symptoms.

"Unfortunately, this is one of the cancers that tends to sneak up on you. Because most people, they may clear their throat, they may have a constant little cough thinking, you know, 'I just have allergies,'" said Dr. Uma Rao with the Chestnut Medical Group.

Scholl's unforgettable voice greets everyone who calls the Fresno Police Department. Police Chief Jerry Dyer says it will be one of the ways he is remembered.

"A lot of people when they leave, there's a legacy that they leave. And the legacy we're going to leave for Michael Scholl is our department-wide voicemail system, so that when anyone calls, they will still hear Michael Scholl's voice," said Dyer.

Over the past few weeks, members of the vice team have been helping his wife care for him in shifts. His sergeant was with him Monday morning when he peacefully passed away. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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