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Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Niagara County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Tortorella and Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour pose with Tortorella's "Deputy of the Year" award from the New York State Sheriff's Association. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NCSO / FACEBOOK)

By +Scott Leffler 
scott.leffler@eastniagarapost.com


The New York State Sheriff's Association honored a Niagara County Sheriff's deputy today with its "Deputy of the Year Award," lauding him for his actions on an incident in Wheatfield in which is risked life and limb to protect students at a local elementary school.

On April 17, Deputy Joe Tortorella responded to a 911 hang-up call at a residence in Wheatfield. While investigating the source of the 911 call, Tortorella was confronted by an armed male who had just shot both his parents. During a lengthy shootout with the suspect, Tortorella was shot in the chest.

The residence in Wheatfield was located next to Errick Road Elementary School which was in session at the time of the incident. During the gun fight, Deputy 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 towards the school to place himself between the school and the suspect.

Tortorella, a 10-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, has been exclusively assigned to the Wheatfield area since 2009.

Niagara County Sheriff Voutour said the award ceremony was extra meaningful. Voutour is the president of the New York State Sheriff's Association. As president, Voutour didn't vote on Tortorella's selection, but he did nominate him. And the committee "voted him Deputy of the Year without any reservation."

"To be honest, I wish it'd never happened," Voutour said. "But in a year that I'm president to have that act of bravery take place, that is pretty special.

Tortorella was also one of four finalists for the 2015 IACP/ Target Police Officer of the Year, which was awarded to Officer Scott T. Angulo from the Tallahassee Police Department in a ceremony in Chicago on Oct. 24.

Also awarded today by the New York State Sheriff's Association was Orleans County Sheriff's Deputy Jim DeFilipps, who was recognized for a March 21 incident in which he was shot twice following a high-speed chase.

DeFilipps, despite getting hit twice by gunfire, shot and killed the gunman, ending the threat to his own life and that of his fellow police officers who were on scene and residents in the vicinity.

"It's kind of nice that Niagara and Orleans got the co-deputies of the year," Voutour said.



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