February 23, 2010
City cop receives Lawman of the Year award
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland Police Sgt. Cheyenne Cute poses at the city police department Wednesday. Cute was named Cortland County Lawman of the Year Monday night for his investigation of a 2009 New Year’s Day homicide.
Cortland Police Sgt. Cheyenne Cute said fate brought him to the footprints in the snow on Jan. 1, 2009 — a trail that led to Patrick West, who had fatally beaten James Adams earlier that night.
A year later, members of the law enforcement community recognized his discovery as Cute became Cortland County’s 40th law enforcement officer to win the distinction of the Lawman of the Year award at the Elk’s Lodge Monday night.
The award recognizes heroism and outstanding performance in law enforcement.
West had been in a fight earlier that night with Adams, 29, leaving him on Rickard Street. He was convicted in December of first-degree manslaughter.
Keynote speaker District Attorney Mark Suben praised Cute for his actions that night.
“If he hadn’t done what he did, we probably wouldn’t have known who to arrest. It is huge what he did,” Suben said after the dinner, calling Cute “very deserving” of the award.
Cute, 30, who joined the department on Sept. 13, 2001, said it was an honor even to be nominated for the award and added he was surprised he won.
Also nominated were Cortland County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Stillman and State Trooper Steven Bilodeau.
Stillman was nominated for helping to save a man who had collapsed in Virgil by performing CPR on him and also for his part in apprehending three people involved in a string of car thefts in Marathon and Cortland.
Bilodeau, a 32-year veteran on the force, assisted in the arrest of Charles R. Thibeault Sr. for murdering his wife, Wendy, among other emergency situations. Bilodeau also worked at Ground Zero after Sept. 11, 2001. Bilodeau was also injured when he crashed his car while responding to a domestic dispute in 2007, continuing to work despite his injuries. He is retiring next month.
All the officers were lauded for their performance and for exemplifying characteristics of a distinguished lawman. A selection committee chose Cute as the winner based on the criteria for outstanding service and dedication to the job.
Cute downplayed his role in the arrest of West, praising the efforts of Sgt. Richard Troyer in the Sheriff’s Department Detective Bureau and also the District Attorney’s Office for securing a conviction.
Cute said when he responded to the scene that night he initially thought Adams was hit by a car but while he was investigating the scene he saw the footprints, which he followed to Riverview Avenue where he found West fighting with a resident. Adams died the next day and the case became a homicide.
Cute said he has always wanted to be in law enforcement and he considers himself fortunate to be working in Cortland, where he grew up and has family and friends. Cute said he has lived in the city of Cortland the past 20 years but just sold his house and is planning to move to Groton.
Cute said the most important part of his career was that it enabled him to meet his wife, Jesse, on the job, with whom he has raised a family in Cortland.
Police Chief F. Michael Catalano said Cute’s skillful investigation on New Year’s Day in 2009, was just one example of the “quality work” Cute has performed throughout his career.
Catalano pointed out that Cute was promoted to sergeant in July, a move Catalano said Cute earned over his years of exemplary performance.
Catalano highlighted another of Cute’s accomplishments in 2009; being instrumental in setting up a surveillance detail that thwarted a burglary. Catalano said Cute is also a firearms instructor and a member of the force’s “tactical team,” which he described as being similar to a SWAT team.
“Everything he needs to do to be a great police officer, he does a good job with it,” Catalano said, praising Cute for being articulate and well respected in the department.
Catalano said Cute has also gotten many letters of commendation and letters of support from the community. He called Cute a “great choice” for the award.
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