Division of Criminal Justice Services

Governor’s Police Officer of the Year Award

This award is presented annually and recognizes a police officer or officers who have demonstrated exceptional valor in service to the people of New York State.

2019 Recipient: Officer Dennison “Denny” Wright of the Rochester Police Department

Officer Wright responded to a call for help with a family dispute that involved an emotionally disturbed man, who was hiding under a bed. Upon arriving, he sought to diffuse the situation. Officer Wright talked with the man and coaxed him out of hiding, but the man became agitated and attempted to leave the home. As family members tried to stop the man, he punched Officer Wright in the face. Without warning, the man then grabbed a 12-inch knife and repeatedly stabbed Officer Wright in the face, head and eyes. During the life-threatening attack, Officer Wright fired his weapon once and missed the individual, who continued the attack. Despite severe injuries and impaired vision, Officer Wright persisted and kept others around him safe. With the aid of Good Samaritans who witnessed the violent attack and rushed to his aid, Officer Wright managed to take the suspect into custody. The 23-year-veteran was treated for a skull and facial fractures and multiple stab wounds; he suffered permanent loss of vision in both eyes.

A Selection Committee with the following members reviews nominations and selects the award recipient(s):

  • Commissioner, Division of Criminal Justice Services
  • Superintendent, New York State Police
  • Executive Director, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Counsel and Executive Director, New York State Sheriffs’ Association
  • President, Police Conference of New York
  • President, New York State Association of PBAs
  • President, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York

Please call 518-485-7635 for more information or to learn when nominations will be accepted for the next award.


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