While we are admittedly and unapologetically quite critical of President Barack Obama and most of his actions, we nevertheless feel compelled to make note when he does something good for a change.
According to USA Today, Obama awarded the Public Safety Medal of Valor to 13 police officers in the East Room of the White House on Monday, the highest honor reserved for first responders like police and firefighters who have gone “above and beyond the call of duty” to protect innocent lives.
“To a person, each of these honorees acted without regard to their own safety,” Obama said during the formal presentation. “We’re so grateful they were there — some off duty, others on duty, and all rising above and beyond the call of duty.”
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Obama also thanked the families of the brave officers and called on the American people to better support the men and women of law enforcement who place their lives on the line everyday.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 16, 2016
The first medal was awarded posthumously to Philadelphia Police Sgt. Robert Wilson III, who had stopped in a store on his way home when two armed brothers entered. Wilson engaged the brothers in a shootout and ultimately perished, but likely saved other lives in the store from the criminals in the process.
Other recipients of the award included:
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- Miami-Dade Officer Mario Gutierrez, who subdued a knife-wielding man attempting to set off a gas explosion that would have claimed numerous lives.
- Johnson City, New York, Patrolman Louis Cioci, who pursued and apprehended a gunman who had killed a fellow officer in a hospital, no doubt saving the lives of other employees, patients and family members.
- Santa Monica, California, Officers Jason Salas and Robert Sparks, along with Capt. Raymond Bottenfield, who saved the lives of students and faculty during a shooting on the campus of Santa Monica College.
- Midwest City, Oklahoma, Maj. David Huff, who successfully resolved a hostage situation by saving a two-year-old girl being held at knife point by a deranged man.
- Los Angeles Officer Donald Thompson, who suffered first and second-degree burns while rescuing an unconscious man from a flaming wrecked vehicle on the freeway.
- Omaha, Nebraska, Officer Coral Walker, who by himself took out a man on a shooting spree who had already killed and wounded several victims.
- Garland, Texas, Officer Gregory Stevens, who prevented a mass shooting terrorist attack by subduing two heavily armed jihadists before they could engage in their planned spree.
- North Miami Officer Niel Johnson, who, despite being outgunned by the criminal, pursued and apprehended a man who had shot a fellow officer and two bystanders.
- FBI Special Agent Tyler Call, who rescued a woman being held at gunpoint by her ex-husband.
- Niagra County Deputy Joey Tortorella, who confronted and subdued a gunman who had killed his parents in his own home, preventing him from taking his planned shooting spree to a nearby elementary school.
These law enforcement officers all went above and beyond the call of duty to save innocent lives, and while all would assuredly claim that they were simply doing their job, they nevertheless are worthy of the recognition and honor they have earned through their selfless actions.
It’s a shame they have to receive it from a president who likely saw the ceremony as a chance for a little positive PR, for a change.
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