For Immediate Release: September 15, 2010
Contact: Morgan Hook | morgan.hook@chamber.state.ny.us | 518.474.8418 | 212.681.4640

GOVERNOR PATERSON HONORS POLICE OFFICER OF THE YEAR RECIPIENTS

Governor David A. Paterson today bestowed Police Officer of the Year honors on four officers – three members of the New York State Police and a fallen member of the Mount Vernon Police Department – who demonstrated courage, bravery and fortitude in the face of grave danger.

“It takes a special person to commit his or her life to a career that is challenging, sometimes thankless, and as these officers’ experiences illustrate, extremely perilous,” Governor Paterson said. “The job can go from routine to dangerous in a split second, as we are so vividly reminded today. It takes a unique blend of duty and courage to wear a police officer’s badge, and it is with great pride – and solemnity – that I present these awards.”

The Governor posthumously honored Mount Vernon Police Officer Christopher Ridley with the Police Officer of the Year Award for 2008, and presented the award for 2009 to State Troopers Steven J. Borbee and Ian E. Henry, and State Police Investigator Rodney Livolsi during a ceremony at the State Capitol.

The Police Officer of the Year Award was initiated in 1983 to recognize a single police officer or team for an exceptional act of valor symbolizing the service of police in New York State. Nine officers from eight law enforcement agencies statewide were nominated for the 2008 award, while 11 officers from seven agencies were nominated for the 2009 award. All officers nominated for the award receive Certificates of Exceptional Valor from the Governor.

Officer Ridley was off-duty on January 25, 2008, when he attempted to break up a fight. He was violently attacked, and his service weapon fell to the ground. As on-duty officers arrived on scene, Officer Ridley was mistaken for the perpetrator and fatally wounded by other police officers.

On January 10, 2009, a routine traffic stop on Interstate 90 in East Greenbush escalated into a dramatic gun battle. Shortly after a speeding taxi was stopped by Trooper Henry, the passenger in the cab opened fire with an assault rifle, shattering the rear window of the taxi and striking the windshield of Trooper Henry’s vehicle.

Unarmed and off-duty, Investigator Livolsi came upon the scene, assisting Trooper Henry by using his personal vehicle to provide Trooper Henry with cover so he could back his vehicle down the highway to get out of firing range. He remained on scene with Trooper Henry, as the passenger of the cab repeatedly refused to surrender and yelled “shoot me” while he continued to exchange fire with officers.

The gun battle lasted for 43 minutes, during which the passenger discharged 28 rounds of high-caliber ammunition at law enforcement and civilians. The incident ended after Trooper Borbee, a rifleman based at the State Police barracks in Princetown, arrived on the scene, joining Trooper Henry at his position approximately 100 yards from the suspect. Trooper Borbee fired one round, killing the suspect.

In addition to the Police Officer of the Year Awards presented to Troopers Henry and Borbee and Investigator Livolsi and on behalf of Officer Ridley, the following officers will receive a Certificate of Exceptional Valor from Governor Paterson:

  • Officer Reginald Huber Jr. of the Carthage Village Police Department;
  • Deputy Sheriff Richard Brenner of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office; 
  • Deputy Sheriff Peter Gerardi of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Officer Shaun Moore of the Greece Police Department;
  • Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Yela of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department;
  • Detective Michael Corvi of the New York City Police Department;
  • Detective Frank Sarrica of the New York City Police Department;
  • Officer John E. Seeley of the New York State Park Police;
  • Trooper Joseph E. Decker of the New York State Police;
  • Deputy Sheriff Roger C. Schreader of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Officer James J. Prince of the Perry Village Police Department;
  • Officer Anthony J. DiPonzio of the Rochester Police Department;
  • Officer Timothy Tonkin of the Suffolk County Police Department;
  • Officer Steven DiScala of the Suffolk County Police Department;
  • Officer Gerard Maxim of the Suffolk County Police Department; and
  • Officer Charles Tramontana of the Suffolk County Police Department.

The Police Officer of the Year selection committee is composed of the following members: the Commissioner of DCJS; the Superintendent of the New York State Police; Counsel and Executive Director of the State Sheriffs’ Association; Executive Director of the State Association of Chiefs of Police; President of the Police Conference of New York; President of the New York State Association of Police Benevolent Association; and President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York.

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The following statements were provided in support of the Police Officer of the Year recipients:

Acting Commissioner of the State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Sean M. Byrne, who serves as chair of the Police Officer of the Year Selection Committee, said: “Each and every day, in every corner of this State, police officers report for duty not knowing what the day may bring. As Governor Paterson honors these officers today for their bravery, we must also call attention to the work done by their colleagues in law enforcement, day in and day out, to keep New York’s families and communities safe.”

New York State Police Acting Superintendent John P. Melville said: “Every day in New York State, police officers intentionally place themselves in harm’s way to protect the public. Today we honor a few selfless individuals who, by their actions, represent the entire law enforcement community in the desire to help others and maintain public safety.”

Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Carl Bell said: “All of our officers risk their lives daily in the best interest of the communities they serve. Officer Ridley exemplified the selfless commitment to safety of others that so many of our men and women exhibit every day. Officer Ridley's sacrifice is an example of the great quality of our brave men and women.”

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