The Police Officer of the Year Award
The Police Officer of the Year Award provides statewide recognition of the police officer or officers who have demonstrated exceptional valor in service to the people of New York State, thereby upholding the highest traditions of law enforcement.
2017 Recipients: Captain Andrew Lane, Detective Kayla Maher, Detective Dawn Lebzelter, Officer Brendan Moore, Officer Thomas Bennett and Officer Vincent Reda of the Yonkers Police Department
The six officers were honored for their actions on Sept. 25, 2017, when they apprehend a gunman who had shot Detective Maher in the face at point-blank range.
Police provided the following account of the events that unfolded around 8 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2017. Detectives Maher and Lebzelter were police officers at the time of the incident:
Officers Maher and Lebzelter were dispatched to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked at the intersection of Marshall Road and Ridge Drive. They approached the car and while speaking briefly with an individual in the vehicle’s front seat, another individual in the back seat pulled a gun and fired at Officer Maher, who was struck in the chin by a .40-caliber bullet at pointblank range.
Officer Lebzelter returned fire along with Officers Reda, Moore, and Bennett, who had arrived on the scene as backup. Officer Moore spotted one suspect fleeing the vehicle on foot and alerted Officer Bennett, who safely took the man into custody while bullets were being fired in their general direction. Officer Lebzelter, meanwhile, calmly apprised other law enforcement arriving on the scene of the gunman’s location to avoid a cross-fire situation.
Officer Moore devised a plan to reach Officer Maher, who had taken refuge underneath the suspect’s vehicle. Officer Reda and Officer Bennett laid down suppression fire that enabled Officer Moore to reach Officer Maher and pull her to safety. Officer Reda, who also approached the vehicle, provided emergency medical treatment to slow Officer Maher’s bleeding until she could be brought to the hospital.
After nearly 10 minutes of sporadic gunfire, Captain Lane approached the vehicle and took the assailant into custody without further incident. Investigators later recovered a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun on the ground near the driver's side rear door of the vehicle, in addition to an illegal, large-capacity ammunition-feeding device. Earlier this year, the individual was indicted and arraigned on numerous charges, including four counts of attempted aggravated murder.