Tortorella one of final four nominees for prestigious law enforcement award
Deputy Joe Tortorella, whose actions in April are credited with ensuring the safety of many students and staff at a Wheatfield elementary school, has been selected as one of four finalists for the 2015 International Association of Chiefs of Police/Target Police Officer of the Year.
The Niagara County Sheriff's Office was recently notified that Tortorella was one of the four finalists. The IACP partners with Target to recognize exemplary performance in professional policing from law enforcement agencies both domestically and internationally. The award recognizes outstanding and heroic achievement among police officers across the globe.
On April 17, Tortorella responded to a 911 hang-up call at a home in Wheatfield near Errick Road Elementary School. While investigating the source of the call, Tortorella was confronted by an armed man who had just shot both his parents in their home. During a lengthy shoot out with the suspect, Tortorella was struck by a bullet in the chest. His bullet-proof vest protected him from injury.
The school was in session at the time of the incident. During the gun fight, Tortorella called dispatch over his radio to alert the school to lock down. When the suspect, who was shot three times, ran back behind the house, Tortorella ran toward the school to place himself between the school and the suspect.
IACP Executive Director Vincent Talucci wrote in a letter to Tortorella, "Your response to a dangerous situation is an example of what it means to make sacrifices for your community and to display impeccable bravery. Your quick thinking to both neutralize the threat and lock down the school exemplify how much you care about the community. On behalf of the law enforcement community, IACP commends you for your outstanding actions."
Tortorella and three other finalists will be recognized at the ninth annual IACP Foundation Gala on Oct. 24 at the IACP Annual Conference in Chicago. One of the four officers will be selected as Police Officer of the Year. Tortorella will also be recognized by the IACP First General Assembly and he will be featured in an article in Police Chief Magazine.