The IACP is proud to once again partner with Target to recognize exemplary performance in professional policing from law enforcement agencies both domestically and internationally. As the most prestigious law enforcement award of the IACP, the Police Officer of the Year Award recognizes outstanding and heroic achievement among police officers across the globe and highlights the sacrifices made daily by law enforcement’s finest.
We are honored to present the finalists for the 2015 Police Officer of the Year Award:
Senior Officer William P. Abram
Bloomington, Indiana, Police Department
On the morning of November 9, 2014, Senior Officer Abram was dispatched to a call concerning a possible violent crime in progress. When Senior Officer Abram arrived, he made his way to the front door, which he found partially open with damage, indicating that it may have been forced. Officer Abram knocked and announced his presence and observed a subject who almost immediately responded by firing a shot. Officer Abram sought cover when a second shot was fired by another subject. Officer Abram told both subjects to put their hands up but both turned, fired again, and started to flee. Officer Abram returned two rounds, striking each subject with one round, and began chasing them both.
Ultimately, both subjects were found because they had been wounded by Officer Abram’s gunfire during the initial exchange, thereby slowing their progress on foot. Upon apprehending the first subject, Officer Abram began to provide life-saving trauma care to the individual while knowing a second, armed suspect was still at large. The wounded second suspect was apprehended a short time later by assisting officers with a third suspect who was driving the “getaway vehicle.” Officer Abram’s skill, decision making, and dedication were instrumental in stopping three dangerous individuals and saving two lives.
Officer Scott T. Angulo
Tallahassee, Florida, Police Department
On November 22, 2014, Officer Angulo was home with his family when his son noticed police cars and they heard shots fired. Officer Angulo immediately rushed his wife and three small children into a bathroom, told them not to come out, put on his ballistic vest, and left the house. Once outside, Officer Angulo found a house on fire, one deputy down, another deputy suffering from gunshot wounds, and firefighters taking cover amidst a volley of gunfire from a suspect who had deliberately set the fire in order to draw out and kill first responders. While helping the injured deputy find cover, Officer Angulo exchanged gunfire with the individual who was still firing shots. During the gun battle, Officer Angulo’s rifle jammed, but he calmly reverted back to his training and went through the steps to clear his round and reload. Officer Angulo was also warning officers arriving on the scene that the shooter was going after other responders. While drawing the suspect’s attention away from another officer who was attempting to aid the fallen deputy, Office Angulo was able to fatally wound the suspect, thereby ending the deadly attack.
Officer Angulo left his family and the safety of his own home and raced toward a gun battle where he aided other officers and saved their lives from imminent danger. Officer Angulo’s selfless actions ended a lethal confrontation with an individual intent on killing as many first responders as possible.
Officer Michael Burton
California Highway Patrol
On the morning of July 20, 2014, Officer Burton was off duty and driving with his family when he approached the scene of a collision that resulted in an overturned pickup truck. The passenger was able to exit, and relayed to Officer Burton that the driver was still inside the pickup. Officer Burton took charge of the scene and noticed the engine compartment was smoldering and about to ignite, but because the roof of the pickup was crushed and he could not open the doors, Officer Burton was unable to access the inside of the vehicle while it was upside down.
Officer Burton bore the brunt of the physical exertion as he and two civilians rolled the truck upright and tried to extinguish the flames that were growing and pry the doors open, but neither worked. Officer Burton continued to attempt to access the driver while another officer arrived on the scene with a second portable fire extinguisher to help extinguish the growing flames. The driver was able to signal to Officer Burton through the back window of the truck, and Officer Burton climbed into the bed of the pickup, grabbed the driver’s arms, and freed him from the vehicle while the smoke and flames grew. With assistance from the other officer, Officer Burton carried the injured driver from the bed of the pickup and to safety, seconds before the vehicle became fully engulfed in flames. Officer Burton’s dedication to serving and willingness to take charge, even when off duty, saved the life of a fellow motorist.
Deputy Joseph L. Tortorella
Niagara County, New York, Sheriff’s Office
On the afternoon of April 17, 2015, Deputy Tortorella was dispatched to a 9-1-1 hang-up phone call. Deputy Tortorella arrived at the address with no other patrol cars in the area or available for back-up and with no other information available. After numerous attempts to make contact, an individual opened the door, agreed to speak with Deputy Tortorella after he got dressed, but snuck out the rear of the residence and began circling around to the driveway. Deputy Tortorella tried to engage the individual in conversation but the individual was activing evasive and erratic. Deputy Tortorella noticed blood on the individual’s hands and clothes and ordered him to his knees. While kneeling, the man reached for his gun and began firing shots. Deputy Tortorella returned fire while taking cover and was hit in his bulletproof vest. Recognizing the incident was occurring next door to an elementary school, Deputy Tortorella immediately notified the dispatch center to lock down the school to protect the students while he continued to pursue the suspect.
As soon as other patrol units arrived at the residence, Deputy Tortorella and others entered the residence to locate the individual—deceased in the kitchen with a self-inflicted gunshot wound—and the individual’s parents—whom the individual had shot in the face and neck areas. Deputies were able to provide initial first aid and then get the parents to EMS personnel and to a nearby trauma center. Both are still alive today, and the school was unaffected because of the quick thinking actions of Deputy Tortorella.