For Immediate Release: September 5, 2013

GOVERNOR CUOMO RECOGNIZES WEBSTER POLICE OFFICER MARK REED AS NEW YORK STATE POLICE OFFICER OF THE YEAR

Officer Reed honored for his role in protecting firefighters during Christmas Eve ambush and fire on Lake Road

Eight officers from six agencies across the state and the Monroe County Sheriff’s SWAT Team also nominated for award, will receive Certificates of Exceptional Valor for their actions

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State’s Police Officer of the Year Award has been presented to Webster Police Officer Mark Reed. Officer Reed put himself at grave risk to protect firefighters and other first responders who were ambushed by a gunman firing a semiautomatic rifle as they responded to a report of a vehicle fire on Lake Road in Webster on Christmas Eve 2012.

“When police officers take the oath to serve and protect, they and their families know their lives will never be the same,” Governor Cuomo said. “Officers put service to their community above themselves, and there is no clearer illustration of that fact than Officer Reed’s actions on Christmas Eve 2012. He put his life on the line that day to protect other first responders from a gunman intent on causing as much death and destruction as possible. Officer Reed’s bravery and selflessness are truly inspiring, and I commend him on this well-deserved recognition.”

Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy presented the award to Officer Reed on the Governor’s behalf during a ceremony this afternoon at the Webster Recreation Center. Webster Police Chief Gerald L. Pickering and West Webster Fire Department Chief James Deisenroth joined him in presenting the award. West Webster Firefighters Michael Chiapperini, who also was a Webster police lieutenant, and Tomasz Kaczowka were killed, and Firefighters Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino were injured during the ambush on December 24, 2012.

Nearly 200 people attended the ceremony, including Officer Reed’s family and law enforcement colleagues from the Webster Police Department, Monroe County and Western New York; representatives from the West Webster, Webster and Union Hill fire departments and NorthEast Quadrant Advanced Life Support ambulance services; and town, county, state and federal elected officials.

“Officer Reed’s rapid evaluation of the scene and decisive action to immediately engage the gunman altered the course of events; his actions undoubtedly prevented further loss of life on that tragic morning,” Chief Pickering said.

At 5:36 a.m., Officer Reed was dispatched to a report of a vehicle fire close to a house at 191 Lake Road. He arrived on the scene before any fire apparatus, and headed toward the location.

As four firefighters arrived to battle the blaze, they were immediately fired upon by a hidden gunman; each of them was hit and the gunman continued his assault. Officer Reed returned to his vehicle to retrieve his patrol rifle and advise other responding officers about what was happening. He then fired his rifle to engage the gunman, whose location was still concealed.

The gunman then turned his fire on Officer Reed, who sought cover. Officer Reed’s actions diverted the gunman from continuing his assault on the firefighters, and allowed other responding officers to safely retreat during the firefight.

At one point, Officer Reed exposed his position to prevent units from the nearby Border Patrol station from driving into gunman’s direct path, or “kill zone.” During the entire gun battle, Officer Reed continued to convey critical information to responding officers to keep them safe while at the same time containing the gunman.

Officer Reed, who is married and has a 3-month-old daughter, has been a member of the Webster Police Department for seven years. Prior to joining the Webster police, he worked for the Cazenovia and Oneida police departments in Madison County. He grew up in Morrisville on a dairy farm, was graduated from Morrisville Eaton High School in 2001 and Utica College in 2005.

News of the award took him by surprise. “I was not aware that my department nominated me for the award. I have a hard time accepting recognition for the profession I have chosen. I know there are many other police officers throughout New York State that are deserving of this award. I am honored and truly humbled to receive this award,” Officer Reed said.

The Police Officer of the Year Award was created in 1983 to recognize a single police officer, or team of officers, for an exceptional act of valor symbolizing the service of police in New York State.

Since the award’s inception, 102 officers from 16 agencies have received it; 69 have been honored posthumously, including 23 officers from the New York City Police Department and 37 members of the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Department who were killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) coordinates the work of the Police Officer of the Year Selection Committee, which reviews nominations submitted by New York State law enforcement agencies. DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green serves as the committee chair.

“Officer Reed showed incredible courage and bravery in his actions on December 24, 2012. While police officers across the state put their lives on the line every day to keep New Yorkers safe, his actions stand out and deserve recognition,” Executive Deputy Commissioner Green said. “On behalf of the entire selection committee, I am proud to join with Lieutenant Governor Duffy to recognize him for his heroism that day.”

Officer Reed was one of nine officers from seven departments across the state nominated for the 2012 award. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team also was nominated for its response to the Lake Road fire and ambush.

The SWAT team responded to Lake Road, entering the scene’s kill zone with limited information and extremely hazardous conditions: gunfire, intense heat from the quickly spreading fire and obstacles in the road. Team members extricated injured firefighters from the scene, and then turned their attention to evacuating residents, who had begun running from their homes in search of information and safety. Ultimately, the team rescued 33 residents, none of whom were hurt.

Once the residents were safe, the team began securing the area so firefighters could fight the blaze, which had engulfed seven houses. This task was dangerous, time consuming and exhausting, but the area was eventually made safe for firefighters and other law enforcement to enter.

Nineteen members of the SWAT Team – Sgts. Todd Brinkerhoff, Brian Moore, Mike Wicks, Tom Roe and Joshua DeRuyter; and Deputies Steven Stepnick, Joseph Neidert, Gary Carpino, Anthony Albertelli, Mike Anderson, Robert Glazier, Daniel Kawski, Tom Perkins, Wendy Sears, Michael Thomas, Brad Fisher, George Wilczak, Eric Norcross and Edward Peets – and the following nominees will all receive Certificates of Exceptional Valor from Governor Cuomo:

  • Sgt. Richard Romand and Officers Nathaniel Pendelton and Mark Reith of the Albany Police Department: Officers Pendelton and Reith responded to a call on February 10, 2012, about an emotionally disturbed person armed with a knife. When they encountered the individual, he refused to comply with officers’ requests. Since officers believed the individual had a knife, Officer Reith displayed his Taser while Sgt. Romand and Officer Pendelton provided cover with their firearms. The individual continued to ignore the officers’ commands and pointed what looked to be a handgun at the officers. Officer Reith deployed the Taser, but the individual remained a threat so Sgt. Romand and Officer Pendelton shot at the individual, hitting him once. The non-lethal wound allowed officers to take the individual, who possessed a BB gun, into custody.
  • Deputy Christopher M. Soluri of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office: On August 25, 2012, Deputy Soluri responded to a call in Grand Island about a suicidal military veteran said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The individual was armed with a large knife, and he was threatening to possibly hurt himself, his girlfriend and her baby. Upon arriving at the scene, Deputy Soluri was met at the door by the woman; he led her to safety but her child remained inside. Deputy Soluri then began talking with the individual, repeatedly ordering him to come outside and drop the knife. At one point, Deputy Soluri kicked the door to the apartment open to keep in contact with the man. Eventually, after continued negotiations, the individual left the apartment without the knife and was taken into custody. No one was injured.
  • Deputy Randolph J. Bachmeyer of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office: The Jefferson County Emergency Response Team responded to the Village of Black River on August 5, 2012, after receiving a call about a suicidal male with a gun in his garage. Upon arriving at the scene, the individual told negotiators he was armed with a shotgun, an M4 rifle and a .45-caliber handgun. The individual continually threatened to kill himself and officers. At one point, the garage door opened and the individual was seen to be wearing what looked like military-issued body armor. He placed a weapon in his vehicle and attempted to leave. Deputy Bachmeyer made a split-second decision to use the Humvee he was driving to push the man’s vehicle backward, pinning it against a tree. His actions allowed the team to safely take the individual into custody without incident.
  • Officer John Barnett of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department: While patrolling the Long Island Railroad’s Jamaica station in Queens on July 4, 2012, Officer Barnett was viciously attacked by a knife-wielding assailant who stabbed him in the left eye. Despite his injuries, Officer Barnett engaged with the man, preventing him from harming anyone else and attempting to take him into custody. The individual ignored the officer’s calls to stand down and continued to walk toward him. Officer Barnett shot at the man; he was declared dead a short time later at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. Officer Barnett is recovering from his injuries but he still has no sight in his left eye, despite undergoing numerous surgeries.
  • Sgt. Kevin Brennan of the New York City Police Department: On January 31, 2012, Officer Brennan was on patrol in the 90th Precinct in Brooklyn when he responded to a shots fired call. Officer Brennan began chasing the individual and as he closed in on the man, the individual turned and fired his weapon. The bullet struck Officer Brennan in the base of the skull, behind his right ear; he survived the shooting.
  • Trooper Daniel J. Hoffman of the New York State Police: On May 14, 2012, Trooper Hoffman and Trooper Michael R. Hettinger responded to a home invasion robbery in LaGrange, Dutchess County. After arriving at the home, Trooper Hettinger secured the rear of the house, while Trooper Hoffman entered the front, where he was immediately confronted by a masked individual possessing a sawed-off rifle. The individual struck Trooper Hoffman with the weapon, knocking him to the floor. The suspect attempted to hit Trooper Hoffman with the rifle, and then pointed the rifle at him. Trooper Hoffman drew his weapon and shot the suspect, killing him. Four other suspects fled the scene, but ultimately were apprehended.

The Police Officer of the Year selection committee is composed of the following members: the Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services; 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 Associations; and President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state’s DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.