Police Officer of the Year Award / Medal of Valor
This award provides statewide recognition of the police officer or officers who have demonstrated exceptional valor in service to the people of New York State.
Rochester Police Officer Dennison “Denny” Wright – Officer Wright responded to a call for help with a family dispute that involved an emotionally disturbed man, who was hiding under a bed on October 4, 2019.
Upon arriving, Officer Wright sought to diffuse the situation. He 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.
Syracuse Police Department Lieutenant James Milana, Officer Victoria Losurdo and Officer Travis Rheinheimer – Three officers were honored for their apprehension of a gunman who shot at Lieutenant Milana – the bullet striking his vehicle’s windshield near his head – after he responded to a call of an individual with a gun on February 4, 2018.
Officer Losurdo was the first to respond to a call for a man with a gun on South Salina Street near West Calthrop Avenue. She saw an individual who looked as if he was holding something in his waistband and ordered him to stop and show his hands. He refused. While Officer Losurdo engaged with the individual, Lieutenant Milana, who was the Third Platoon sergeant at the time, arrived. He stopped his patrol vehicle a few yards north of where Thomas was standing, idling it between the individual and Officer Losurdo.
Before Lieutenant Milana got out of the vehicle, the gunman pulled a semi-automatic pistol from his waistband and fired several shots at him. The bullets struck the vehicle’s hood and windshield, close to Sgt. Milana's head. The individual then ran across South Salina Street toward a nearby ramp to Highway 81, firing over his shoulder at Sgt. Milana and Officer Losurdo, who returned fire.
Officer Travis Rheinheimer arrived on scene to assist his fellow officers. The individual, who was shot at least once, continued to flee, discarding his firearm, leaping over a fence and attempting to hide before other officers took him into custody. The assailant, later identified as Leon Thomas, pleaded guilty to attempted murder earlier this year and is serving a 23-year prison sentence.
Yonkers Police Captain Andrew Lane, Detective Kayla Maher, Detective Dawn Lebzelter, Officer Brendan Moore, Officer Thomas Bennett and Officer Vincent Reda – On Sept. 25, 2017, Officers Maher and Lebzelter were dispatched to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked at the intersection of Marshall Road and Ridge Drive. While speaking 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 Reda and Officer Bennett laid down suppression fire that enabled Officer Moore to reach Officer Maher, who had taken refuge underneath the suspect’s vehicle, and pull her to safety. Officer Reda 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.
Syracuse Police Officer Kelsey Francemone – Police Officer Francemone was recognized for disabling a gunman who began shooting during a large party at the James Geddes Apartments in Syracuse's Near Westside neighborhood on Father's Day 2016. Officer Francemone, who was patrolling alone when gunfire erupted, also successfully defended herself when members of the crowd attacked her as she attempted to secure the area.
Trooper Donald L. Atkinson and Trooper Lawrence F. Gurdo II - Trooper Atikinson and Trooper Gurdo were recognized for helping rescue a 14-year-old girl who had been swimming near the Whitney Point Dam in Broome County on July 15, 2015. Both men braved cold water and an extremely strong undercurrent to pull the teen to safety from near the mouth of the quarter-mile-long intake tunnel.
Johnson City Patrolman Louis J. Cioci - Patrolman Cioci was recognized for his actions in response to a March 31, 2014, incident in which a gunman killed a fellow Johnson City police officer and then opened fire on a busy street. He is credited with preventing the shooter from harming civilians caught in the midst of the dangerous event.
Suffolk County Police Sgt. Christopher Prokesch, Sgt. Ryan Sefton and Officer John Klein - Sgts. Prokesch and Sefton and Officer Klein were recognized for their response to a call of shots fired, which resulted in them confronting a man wielding a semiautomatic rifle in the hamlet of Shirley in June 2013. The three officers ensured the safety of residents and their law enforcement colleagues during the incident.
Webster Police Officer Mark Reed - At 5:36 a.m. on Christmas Eve 2012, 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.
New York State Trooper Gerald S. Segur - On March 26, 2011, at approximately 9:55 PM, Chemung County 911 broadcasted an alert to all units that a Trooper in Tioga County had been menaced with a shotgun by an intoxicated motorist. The broadcast provided a description of the suspect's vehicle and its last known location.
At approximately 10:20 PM, Trooper Jeffrey M. Grebleski of SP Horseheads advised Chemung County 911 that he was behind the suspect vehicle while traveling north bound on ST-34 in the town of Barton, Tioga County. Trooper Segur observed Trooper Grebleski and the suspect vehicle in the distance in front of him and caught up to them. Trooper Grebleski activated his emergency lights to stop the suspect vehicle as it continued north bound on ST-34 and Trooper Segur pulled alongside Trooper Grebleski, while driving north in the south bound lane.
Initially the suspect refused to stop and pointed the barrel of his shotgun out the driver's side window of his vehicle. Shortly thereafter the suspect slowed to approximately 20 miles-per-hour and stopped abruptly in the middle of the north bound lane. The suspect then immediately exited his vehicle with the shotgun to his shoulder. Trooper Grebleski stopped behind the suspect and was unable to exit his patrol vehicle as the suspect advanced towards him with the shotgun pointed at him. Trooper Grebleski ducked below the dash of his patrol vehicle and attempted to place his vehicle in reverse to retreat from the gunman. In doing so he placed the vehicle in neutral and could not move. Trooper Segur, realizing that Trooper Grebleski was in danger, exited his patrol vehicle, drew his pistol and fired five rounds at the suspect striking him several times, knocking the suspect to the ground. The gunman was disabled approximately two feet from the front bumper of Trooper Grebleski's patrol vehicle.
Rome Police Officer Donald Moore - Officer Moore was off-duty and at an AT&T Wireless store in New York Mills on the afternoon of May 27, 2010, when a man opened fire inside, shooting one employee and aiming for the others. Officer Moore quickly responded by drawing his off-duty weapon and firing at the shooter, killing him. A subsequent investigation into the incident revealed that the shooter had a prior history of threatening behavior toward the AT&T employees and carried a "hit list" with their names, and extra rounds of ammunition, the day of the shooting.
New York State Troopers Ian Henry, Rodney Livolsi and Steven Borbee - On Jan. 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 New York State Trooper Ian 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, State Police Investigator Rodney 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 Steven Borbee, a rifleman based at the State Police barracks in Princetown, arrived on scene, joining Trooper Henry at his position approximately 100 yards from the suspect. Trooper Borbee fired one round, killing the suspect.
Mount Vernon Police Officer Christopher Ridley - Officer Ridley was off-duty on Jan. 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.
New York City Police Department Officers Herman Yan and Russel Timoshenko were on routine patrol when they initiated a routine vehicle stop. Upon exiting their vehicle, Officers Yan and Timoshenko were met with gunfire, each being struck twice. Simultaneously the officers began taking fire from another parked vehicle. Officer Yan was able to return fire, call for assistance and render medical aid to his downed partner. Officer Yan later provided a description of the attackers en route to the hospital leading to their capture. Officer Timoshenko succumbed to his wounds on July 14, 2007. Officer Yan continues to serve with the NYPD.
New Hartford Police Officer Joseph Corr responded to a jewelry store robbery in progress on February 27, 2006. A high-speed vehicle pursuit ensued, ending with the suspect's vehicle crashing into a gas pump. One of the suspects fled running into the woods. Officer Corr ran up to the edge of the woods where he last saw the suspect. A shot was fired from the wood line and Officer Corr fell to the ground. Officer Corr succumbed to a gunshot wound to the neck. The suspect was later captured and convicted.
New York State Trooper Andrew J. Sperr encountered a suspicious vehicle March 1, 2006. Unbeknownst to him, the two male occupants had just robbed a bank. The bank robbers had left the vehicle in a parking area and were on their way to change vehicles when trooper Sperr observed them. Trooper Sperr followed them into the parking area and made a vehicle and traffic stop. As Trooper Sperr approached the vehicle, the passenger immediately fired a gun, striking Trooper Sperr in the torso. Despite being shot, Trooper Sperr drew his sidearm and returned fire upon the assailants, wounding both of them before they had an opportunity to flee the scene. The robbers returned gunfire and Trooper Sperr succumbed to a mortal wound at the scene.
Ontario County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Kevin D. Owens responded to a bank robbery in progress on April 13, 2005. A high-speed vehicle pursuit ensued, ending with the suspect's vehicle crashing into a utility pole. The suspect began firing a shotgun at Sergeant Owens, hitting him in the leg. Sergeant Owens returned fire until the suspect lay motionless. Sergeant Owens then approached the subject and attempted to administer CPR, but was unsuccessful.
On September 10, 2004, New York City Police Department Detectives Robert Parker and Patrick Rafferty sacrificed their lives while attempting to effect the arrest of a domestic violence subject. In the ensuing struggle, the subject gained possession of Detective Parker's service weapon and shot both detectives. Prior to their deaths, both men took actions which led to the capture of the subject.
Lieutenant John F. Finn, of the Albany Police Department, was working the evening shift on December 23, 2003, nearing the end of his shift, when a call went out for an armed robbery that occurred in the city's South End neighborhood. Lieutenant Finn responded and subsequently engaged a suspect in a foot pursuit. The suspect fired several shots at Lieutenant Finn, striking him, causing him to suffer mortal wounds despite the fact that he was wearing his body armor. Lieutenant Finn was able to return fire, striking the suspect numerous times. The suspect was then taken into custody and was incarcerated. Lieutenant Finn fought for his life in the six weeks that followed this incident before succumbing to his wounds on February 12, 2004.
Trooper Shawn C. Dean of the New York State Police, while on routine patrol, stopped a vehicle in Broome County for vehicle and traffic violations. Another Trooper, John Spero, responded to assist him. While interviewing the passenger behind the stopped vehicle, the operator suddenly exited the vehicle, pointing a handgun at both Troopers, ordering them to put their hands up. Trooper Spero and the gunman simultaneously fired at each other. Trooper Dean seeing that Trooper Spero had been shot, drew his weapon and fired at the gunman who continued to point the gun at Trooper Spero. Trooper Dean continued firing until the gunman fell to the ground, mortally wounded. Trooper Dean called for assistance, took the passenger into custody and provided assistance to Trooper Spero. Subsequent investigation revealed that the vehicle was stolen and that there were numerous stolen firearms in the trunk of the car.
Each of the officers who died in the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center posthumously received a Police Officer of the Year Award for 2001. Each award was presented to the officer's family at a ceremony in New York City.
Port Authority Police Department
New York City Police Department
|Superintendent Fred V. Morrone
|Sergeant John G. Coughlin
|Chief James A. Romito
|Sergeant Michael S. Curtin
|Inspector Anthony P. Infante, Jr.
|Sergeant Rodney C. Gillis
|Captain Kathy N. Mazza
|Sergeant Timothy A. Roy
|Lieutenant Robert D. Cirri, Sr.
|Detective Claude D. Richards
|Sergeant Robert M. Kaulfers
|Detective Joseph V. Vigiano
|Police Officer Christopher C. Amoroso
|Police Officer John D'Allara
|Police Officer Maurice Vincent Barry
|Police Officer Vincent G. Danz
|Police Officer Liam Callahan
|Police Officer Jerome M. Dominguez
|Police Officer Clinton Davis, Sr.
|Police Officer Stephen P. Driscoll
|Police Officer Donald A. Foreman
|Police Officer Mark J. Ellis
|Police Officer Gregg John Froehner
|Police Officer Robert Fazio
|Police Officer Thomas Edward Gorman
|Police Officer Ronald P. Kloepfer
|Police Officer Uhuru Gonja Houston
|Police Officer Thomas M. Langone
|Police Officer George G. Howard
|Police Officer James P. Leahy
|Police Officer Stephen Huczko, Jr.
|Police Officer Brian G. McDonnell
|Police Officer Paul W. Jurgens
|Police Officer John W. Perry
|Police Officer Paul Laszczynski
|Police Officer Glen K. Pettit
|Police Officer David P. Lemagne
|Police Officer Moira A. Smith
|Police Officer John J. Lennon
|Police Officer Ramon Suarez
|Police Officer J. D. Levi
|Police Officer Paul Talty
|Police Officer James F. Lynch
|Police Officer Santos Valentin
|Police Officer Donald J. McIntyre
|Police Officer Walter E. Weaver
|Police Officer Walter Arthur McNeil
|Police Officer Joseph M. Navas
|Police Officer James A. Nelson
|Police Officer Alfonse J. Niedermeyer, III
|Police Officer James W. Parham
|Police Officer Dominick Pezzulo
|Police Officer Bruce A. Reynolds
|Police Officer Antonio Jose Rodrigues
|Police Officer Richard Rodriguez
|Police Officer John P. Skala
|Police Officer Walwyn W. Stuart, Jr.
|Police Officer Kenneth F. Tietjen
|Police Officer Nathaniel Webb
|Police Officer Michael T. Wholey
Sergeant Wayne Dunn, Detective Brian Lauler, Police Officer Gregg Gaynor, Haverstraw Village Police Department, Sergeant Martin Lund and Police Officer John Lawless of the Haverstraw Town Police Department, repeatedly entered a burning three story 52 unit apartment building to alert and evacuate many of the still sleeping residents. All of the officers had to brave thick smoke, intense heat and flames. They worked their way through the building, at times crawling on the floor, to escort frightened and disoriented residents from the building. Many small children had to be carried. Two of the officers suffered smoke inhalation and a third was treated for a laceration to his leg, as well as smoke inhalation.
Police Officer Matthew Dziergowski of the New York City Police Department, disregarded his own safety while covering an accident scene, when he placed his patrol car between a speeding vehicle and his fellow officers. The resulting collision ended with Officer Dziergowski losing his life. His action saved the lives of several officers who would have otherwise been struck.
Police Officers Marlene Loos, Kit Gabrielsen and Alphonso Ray of the Suffolk County Police Department, subdued and arrested an individual after Officer Loos was attacked, disarmed and shot while handling an assault case. Despite her injuries, Officer Loos evacuated civilians from the line of fire and physically protected one citizen by covering her with her own body. Officers Gabrielsen and Ray came to Officers Loos' aid, were engaged in a gun battle with her attacker and eventually subdued and arrested the individual.
Sergeant Edward J. Kelly and Police Officers Thomas P. Ciancarelli, David D. Henenlotter and Richard A. Hermann of the Nassau County Police Department, disregarded their own safety when they formed a human chain and entered a burning dwelling to pull a man and two elderly women to safety.
Police Officer John P. Maher of the New York/New Jersey Port Authority Police Department, while off -duty, crawled into a burning residence on his hands and knees to find a two year old toddler and his fifty-five year old grandmother both of whom were semiconscious. Officer Maher handed the child off to another rescuer, and then proceeded to drag the grandmother to safety. Once outside the officer stood by the victims until EMS personnel arrived.
Police Officer Juan A. Diaz, Jr. of the Suffolk County Police Department, disregarding his own personal safety, rescued an accident victim who had been ejected from her vehicle. The vehicle had severed a utility pole cascading high voltage electrical lines onto the wet pavement and around the victim. To further complicate the situation, a high voltage transformer which was attached to the pole, threatened to explode. Maneuvering through the live wires Officer Diaz scooped up the victim, and retreated to a safe area just as the transformer exploded.
Investigator Ricky J. Parisian of the New York State Police, while off-duty, observed an armed robbery in progress in a local supermarket. Investigator Parisian quickly removed store patrons from danger by escorting them out a back door to safety, whereupon he returned to the front of the store concerned for two employees still trapped by the perpetrator. Inv. Parisian, who was unarmed, tackled the robber. In the ensuing struggle, Inv. Parisian was shot once in the chest. Before succumbing to his wound, he disarmed the gunman, pulled off his ski mask and proceeded to give chase.
Police Officer Leroy Palmer of the City of Mount Vernon Police Department was recognized for his bravery where he and his partner were both shot by a suspect and his partner was incapacitated. Officer Palmer was able to return fire and additionally helped capture the two men who were in the company of the shooter.
Police Officer Mark Raynor of the Southampton Town Police Department crawled into a building which was fully engulfed in flames and thick smoke to rescue an infant boy trapped inside. Despite his heroic efforts in finding the child, carrying him to safety and administering CPR, Officer Raynor was unable to save the child's life.
Trooper Nestor L. Rodriquez of the New York State Police disregarding his own personal safety, crawled on his back through the driver's door window of an overturned and burning vehicle to free the driver who was trapped inside. Just as Trooper Rodriquez succeeded in moving the driver to a safe distance from the vehicle, it burst into flames, becoming fully engulfed. His bravery saved the driver's life.
Detective Patrick Brosnan of the New York City Police Department was involved in 10 incidents during 1990, any one of which qualifies him for this award. He has a distinguished 8-year career, effecting over 800 arrests, 300 of which involved possession of a loaded gun. For his exceptional bravery, Detective Brosnan received 132 citations.
Sergeant Kenneth E. Burdick of Oswego County Sheriff's Department saw the headlights of an oncoming car disappear while rounding a curve. Upon investigation he found that the car had gone off the road and into icy waters of a deep creek. His quick action resulted in saving the lives of five people who would surely have otherwise drowned.
Police Officer John Yotter of the Lockport City Police Department responded quickly to an early morning house fire. Upon arriving at the scene, he saw smoke and heard cries "Save my baby!" coming from a second floor window. Without regard for his own safety, he entered the house and led three adults and two children to safety.
Police Officers Wilfred Barriere and William Moran of the New York/New Jersey Port Authority Police Department, were recognized for their valor in taking decisive action against armed robbers. Placing the safety of others above their own personal well being, their quick actions were instrumental in bringing a highly dangerous situation to a fast and successful conclusion.
Detective Paul Ragonese of the New York City Police Department was recognized for his numerous acts of bravery and valor as a member of the department's Emergency Services Unit. Most recent was the aid rendered to a woman pinned under a 35 ton crane.
Sergeant David B. Grossman of the New York State Police was recognized for his acts of bravery in rescuing three people from a burning automobile. This incident occurred on the Southern State Parkway, Long Island.
Detective Robert T. Gallagher of the New York City Police Department received the award for his work as a member of the department's anti-robbery team. They worked on the confiscation of illegal firearms in Manhattan and the Bronx.