President Barack Obama has awarded the nation's highest honor for law enforcement to 13 police officers who risked their lives to protect citizens. One of the recipients of the Public Safety Medal of Valor was killed in the line of duty.
Obama said the 13 officers recognized Monday put themselves in harm's way to help save the lives of others.
"If it had not been for their bravery, we likely would have lost a lot of people: mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and loved ones," said Obama.
Obama stressed that these officers were in the place where they were most needed at the right time, but their actions went beyond the call of duty. A Philadelphia officer was killed when he entered a video game store and encountered two armed robbers there. He was awarded the medal posthumously.
"They stood up to dangerous individuals brandishing assault rifles, handguns and knives. One officer sustained multiple stab wounds while fighting off an assailant. Another endured first degree burns to his arms and face while pulling an unconscious driver from a burning car on a freeway," said Obama.
The president said the dedication of many law enforcement officers to their duty is not always recognized.
"Not everyone will wear the medal that we give today, but everyday so many of our public safety officers wear a badge of honor," he said.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch noted that some of the honorees were off duty when they were called into action.
"I know that no words or medals can begin to repay the debt that we owe to these exceptional officers and to all of the policemen, the firefighters, federal agents, sheriffs and EMTs [emergency medical technicians] who go to incredible lengths to fulfill their oaths to protect and to serve the American people,” said Lynch.
The Public Safety Medal of Valor was established by President Bill Clinton in 2000 to recognize police officers, firefighters and other first responders for exceptional courage.