Orleans deputy honored in front of peers, community
KNOWLESVILLE – James DeFilipps, a deputy with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, receives the 2015 “Deputy of the Year” by the New York State Sheriff’s Association from Ronald Spike, Yates County sheriff. Spike is also chairman of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute Board of Directors.
The association held its annual awards ceremony in January, but DeFilipps was unable to attend the program in Albany because his wife Marie gave birth to the couple’s second child, Gianna, on Jan. 19.
Rather than have a quiet presentation at the Sheriff’s Office in Albion, Sheriff Randy Bower wanted DeFilipps to be recognized in front of the community at the Orleans County 4-H Fair.
“We are celebrating a true hero,” Bower told a crowd of more than 100 people at the presentation.
DeFilipps was recognized for performing an act of valor and heroism, above the normal call of duty, the Sheriff’s Association said.
It was 3 a.m. on March 21 when DeFilipps was shot twice following a high-speed chase with James Ellis of Wyoming County. DeFilipps was the first police officer on scene when Ellis wrecked his vehicle in Clarendon on Route 31A. Police were pursuing Ellis after a 911 call when he threatened an ex-girlfriend in Shelby with a gun.
After the crash in Clarendon, Ellis fled to a nearby wooded area and opened fire on DeFilipps and other deputies and police to arrive on the scene. DeFilipps, despite getting hit twice by gunfire, shot Ellis, killing him and ending his threat.
DeFilipps, after being wounded in the abdomen, kept a rifle light on Ellis so he could be found by other police officers, who gave him first aid. Ellis would die at the scene.
“Deputy DeFilipps’ quick actions that night eliminated a threat and saved other officers and civilians injuries from the crazed man,” Spike said in presenting the award to DeFilipps. “The State Sheriff’s (Association) determined that Deputy DeFilipps’ actions were exceptional while in the line of duty.”
DeFilipps’ life was likely saved by wearing a bullet-proof vest. He suffered serious abdominal bruising. He returned to work the night shift after three months of recovery. in January, he switched to working the day shift and is currently in charge of the Marine Patrol Division.
DeFilipps, a Holley resident, started his career with the Holley Police Department. He has worked as a deputy for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office for about 13 years.
He said the award was “overwhelming.” He said the threat of gunfire while on the job “is something that’s always on your mind.”
Spike also praised the other responding law enforcement officers during the incident on March 21, 2015 in the middle of the night. Spike said dispatchers, volunteer firefighters and other first responders also should be commended.
“Orleans County can be proud to have such dedicated public safety members of this community,” Spike said.
“The Sheriffs of New York State have conferred upon Deputy James DeFilipps the 2015 New York State Deputy Sheriff of the Year Award for exceptional public safety service demonstrating bravery and perseverance while facing gunfire in attempting to conserve the peace in his county,” Spike said.