During National Police Week, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) paid tribute to the heroism, bravery and dedication of dozens of law enforcement officers from across the country at its 30th annual Top Cops Awards dinner in Washington, D.C., on May 12.
Each year, members of federal, state, county, tribal and local agencies nationwide nominate their fellow officers for actions above and beyond the call of duty during the preceding year. From the hundreds of nominations, an independent committee of national law enforcement representatives selects one case for each of the 50 states and U.S. territories, of which 10 are named Top Cops Award winners.
Congratulations to all the 2023 honorees for their outstanding service!
On January 11, 2022, Phoenix Police Officers Trisha Eskridge, Christopher Jones, John Noe, Austin Peru and Travis Spitler valiantly responded to a call involving a man who falsely reported that intruders had broken into his home and shot his wife. During the incident, Peru was shot multiple times by the suspect moments after arriving on scene. As Peru was fleeing, Jones arrived and fired at the suspect, striking him and forcing him back into his home. As more officers arrived, the suspect tried to make an escape but failed and retreated back into his home again. Minutes later, the wife’s brother walked outside with an infant in a baby carrier. Eskridge, Spitler and Noe rushed to rescue the infant, but the suspect reappeared and opened fire, striking all three officers. Members of the Special Assignments Unit (SAU) ultimately rescued the baby and attempted negotiations with the suspect. Finally, with no other recourse, SAU officers deployed tear gas and entered the home, where the suspect was found dead along with his wife.
Bristol Patrol Officer Alec Iurato was honored for his actions during a deliberate ambush. On October 10, 2022, Iurato, along with Sergeant Dustin DeMonte and Officer Alex Hamzy, responded to the scene of a supposed domestic violence call but were immediately opened fire on by a suspect. Iurato was struck multiple times and DeMonte and Hamzy were fatally wounded. Iurato managed to find cover behind a police cruiser and radio for backup. He then drew his service weapon, steadied himself and fired just one round to stop the suspect, who was 30 yards away.
On December 3, 2022, Corpus Christi Police Officer Gustavo Medina was requested to assist a Nueces County Sheriff’s deputy who was following a stolen vehicle with three occupants inside. After a brief chase, the stolen vehicle hit a curb and came to a sudden stop. Two of the three men were rounded up by the deputy; however, the third fled on foot. Medina exited his vehicle and ran after him. The man opened fire on and wounded Medina, but Medina managed to return fire and kill the suspect.
On July 6, 2022, Detroit Police Officers Loren Courts and Amanda Hudgens responded to a “shots fired” call; however, they had no idea they were headed into an ambush. Upon arrival, a suspect immediately fired on them, wounding Courts in a major artery in his neck. The officers exited their car to seek cover; Hudgens shielded Courts with her own body while applying pressure to his wound. Officers Eric Campbell, Brandon Balazsi, Brett Murphy and Dylan Kennedy arrived as backup and were able to neutralize the suspect. Courts tragically succumbed to his wound.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Tierney Tomburo was honored for her tenacity during a traffic stop that turned into a foot pursuit on September 10, 2022. Tomburo immediately gave chase to a passenger who ran from the stop. The suspect drew a handgun and fired on Tomburo, striking her in the pelvis. She collapsed but was able to unholster her service weapon and, in near total darkness, return fire on the suspect, striking him twice and killing him.
Kentucky State Police Senior Trooper Billy Ball, Floyd County Sheriff’s Detective Darrin Lawson and Deputies Kristopher Hall and Dusty Newsome, and Prestonsburg Police Patrolman Dennis Hutchinson were among the officers who responded to the worst law enforcement shooting in the state’s history. On June 30, 2022, Floyd County deputies responded to deliver a court-ordered emergency protection order to the home of a man who had been holding his wife against her will. The man opened fire at the officers, immediately killing Deputy William Petry and incapacitating Lawson. Newsome and Hall sought cover and radioed for backup while under heavy fire. During the barrage, a K-9 was killed. Kentucky state troopers arrived on scene, and Ball organized a rescue plan where he, Newsome and other troopers went into the line of fire to carry Lawson to safety. Additional backup arrived, including Prestonsburg Police Captain Ralph, who was shot and killed, and Firefighter/EMT Joey Reynolds, who was shot in the face. Hutchinson and Patrolman Jacob Chaffins ran over to pull Reynolds out of the line of fire; however, Chaffins was shot while doing so. Hutchinson transported both men to the nearest hospital, where Chaffins succumbed to his injuries. After hours of firing upon law enforcement, the man eventually surrendered.
NYPD Detective Sumit Sulan was honored for remaining calm under pressure during a January 21, 2022, domestic call involving a mother and son. During the incident, Sulan discharged two rounds from his service weapon to disable the son, who had fatally gunned down fellow responding Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora.
Manalapan Township Police Sergeant Eric Voorand, Middletown Township Police Patrolman Omar Akel and Howell Township Police Patrolman Daniel Murphy were among the members of the Monmouth County Emergency Response Team who responded to a call of a violent career criminal wanted for murder who was holding a 2-week-old baby hostage. During the tense incident, the suspect set fire to his residence and opened fire on the officers while using the baby as a shield. Voorand, Akel and Murphy made calculated shots to take down the suspect and rescue the baby.
Cuyahoga Metro Housing Authority Police Sergeant Scott Drew and Patrolman Saleem Ali were recognized for their teamwork and decisive actions during a June 2, 2022, incident where they engaged and prevailed in a life-or-death fight with a man who was causing a disturbance in his neighborhood.
On April 20, 2022, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Brendan Kenney, Greenberg Police Detective Daniel O’Malley, Yonkers Police Detective Brian Menton and NYPD Detective James Menton, members of the FBI’s Westchester Safe Streets Task Force in New York, were tracking down a convicted felon wanted for questioning in relation to a shooting in Yonkers. When the officers closed in on the suspect at a convenience store, the suspect opened fire on Brian Menton, striking him in the torso. Kenney returned fire, shooting and killing the suspect. The officers then quickly banded together to save Brian’s life, getting him out of the store and into the backseat of a vehicle; O’Malley applied pressure to Brian’s wound and James Menton, Brian’s twin brother, maneuvered through traffic to get him to the nearest trauma center. Their actions saved Brian’s life.