Dunkirk’s finest

Police Department remembers Officer Hazelton

Submitted Photo A plaque memorializing Officer Matthew Hazelton was unveiled at the Dunkirk Police Station on Friday almost one year to the day of Hazelton's end of watch last August. Hazelton's wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Ava, were there to celebrate the dedication.

On Friday afternoon, Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas and Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano unveiled a plaque in memory of K9 Officer Matthew Hazelton, who passed away after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on Aug. 6, 2017. The plaque is located in front of the Dunkirk Police Station and, in the words of Ortolano, “It serves as a permanent memorial to one of the finest officers we’ve ever had.”

Hazelton served as an officer in the Dunkirk Police Department for 14 and a half years and was a dive team member and SRT tactical team member. He spent the last two years of his career as a K9 officer with Nico, his K9 partner. On Sept. 30, 2017, Hazelton was awarded the 2017 Kevin Link Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement, which was developed to honor those who have served the law enforcement and public safety professions generously and unselfishly, as demonstrated by the qualities that Deputy Link embodied.

In attendance on Friday were Hazelton’s wife, Jennifer, and daughter Ava, as well as several friends, family members and fellow officers. Ortolano thanked the anonymous donor who contributed the funds for the plaque, and recognized the hard work of Cody Britton of Southpaw Signs, who designed and created the plaque, and welder Ken Sek who created the plaque post. Following the ceremony, Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, visited the plaque and met with Jennifer and Ortolano to recognize Hazelton’s service.

“Officer Hazelton will always be a part of us,” said Ortolano. “He’s left a hole in our hearts that can never be filled. But we know that in him, we have an angel up above looking over us. It was an honor to have known him.”