It was a little before noon on Peck Street in early October of 2019.
Denny Wright had been a cop for 23 years and he was about to walk up his last set of front steps.
At least the last set that he would see, the last set that would see him as a man of service on active duty.
It was some kind of domestic call, the son, a full-grown man with a full-grown criminal record, was threatening his folks and acting odd. When Denny was led into the bedroom where the guy was hiding under a mattress it looked like any other call. The unkempt chaos of urban America, the unspoken tension of what comes next.
From there the body cam gets hard to watch.
The guy jumps up and makes toward the closet, bare-chested, and there’s a tumble and you can tell that Denny’s going over backward. What you can’t tell is that the guy’s stabbing him.
Stabbing him in the face.
The left eye and the scalp and again and again the knife came down and that’s when Denny went blind.
It’s hard to imagine how that must have felt.
The pain, the hemorrhaging, the disorientation of not being able to see, of not knowing when and where the next blow is going to land, the thought that he’s probably coming for your throat next, the crowding fog of looming unconsciousness.
That’s when Denny Wright remembered the academy.
Lying on the floor, choking on his own blood, blind, about to pass out and maybe pass away.
He remembered the academy, and the need to disable his weapon. If you’re losing the fight, they taught him, if you’re going to be overcome, disable your weapon, don’t let it fall into the hands of the attacker.
At the time he’d thought that was preposterous. If it ever came to it, he wasn’t disabling his weapon, he was using it, he was going down fighting. But here it was. On Peck Street, in some forgettable house, a 911 frequent flier, bleeding out, going down.
With a duty to protect.
Denny thought about the family, he thought about the other first responders still en route, he thought about the gun in his holster and what evil could be done with it. And as he drifted toward incoherence and unconsciousness he fingered the retention device and pulled the Glock and ejected the magazine and, pointing it in what he figured was the safest direction, discharged the round in the chamber, turning the gun into a paperweight.
He did his duty.
And he lived.
And now he walks with a stick. He can’t see light, but he doesn’t live in darkness. And he has rebuilt his life and sometimes he puts on his uniform and always he holds tight to the good woman by his side.
And people have recognized his heroism and courage.
And that year they named him the New York State Governor’s Police Officer of the Year.
They announced it, but they didn’t give it. In 2020 there was covid, and in 2021 there was a new governor and in 2022 there was an election.
And apparently, that was on the governor’s mind, as – after two years of silence – the office of Gov. Kathy Hochul reached out and said it was time to honor Denny Wright, to finally present him with the statewide honor he had earned, the first time such an award had been presented to a member of his department.
In fact, the ceremony was scheduled and planned, and all Denny had to do was show up.
The day before Election Day.
At the Governor’s Mansion, to be a prop, a blind hero cop, to stand beside her on the evening news the night before the election.
Denny’s blind, but he’s not dumb. He thanked the governor’s people, but said he was busy that day. Instead of Monday, he said, why don’t we do it Wednesday?
They said they’d get back to him.
At least not until recently. Apparently miffed by his refusal to be her pawn, the governor delayed the Police Officer of the Year presentation for another six months, and refused to take part. Instead, she delegated it to the lieutenant governor, a side stop on his trip to Oswego. It seems to be the first time anyone but the sitting governor has presented this award.
To his credit, Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado was extremely gracious and did an excellent job. He showed genuine compassion and respect, and Denny Wright liked him quite a bit.
And nobody missed the governor.
But everyone missed Denny Wright’s father.
See, he died in February, and he missed seeing his son receive not just the Police Officer of the Year award, but also the Medal of Valor, New York’s highest law enforcement award.
Denny Wright could hug his mom after the ceremony, but not his dad.
Because Kathy Hochul is a vindictive witch.
Because she delayed his ceremony for almost a year to use it as a political prop, and then put it on hold as punishment when he wouldn’t whore out his uniform for her political benefit.
And that ran out the clock on his dad.
And that’s what Kathy Hochul thinks about cops.