Mission Manager congratulates the 13 police officers who were awarded the Public Safety Medal of Valor — the nation’s highest honor for law enforcement that recognizes officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in attempt to protect others from harm.
President Obama recognized the officers yesterday in a formal military presentation at the White House, noting that their service reflects the “highest form of citizenship.” Obama’s remarks are published on the White House blog and media outlets across the nation.
The recipients ranged from officers who had suffered stab wounds and burn wounds to those who defused hostage situations and prevented campus shootings.
“To a person, each of these honorees acted without regard to their own safety,” Obama said during the ceremony. “We’re so grateful they were there — some off duty, others on duty, and all rising above and beyond the call of duty.”
In his remarks, Obama also called on the nation to support and listen to its law enforcement officers. “Medals and ceremonies like today are important, but these aren’t enough to convey the true depth of our gratitude. Our words will be hollow if they’re not matched by deeds. So, our nation has a responsibility to support those who serve and protect us.”
He vowed to give law enforcement the tools they need to do their jobs, citing the mission of the President’s newly created police task force. “We can show our respect by listening to you, learning from you, giving you the resources that you need to do your jobs,” Obama continued. “Our country needs that right now.”
The staff at Mission Manager would also like to thank every man and woman who puts on a uniform every day to serve and protect. The 13 recipients of the Medal of Valor are a testament to the true character and bravery of our first responders. They did not seek recognition; instead they put themselves in harm’s way so that others may live.
One officer was honored posthumously — fallen Sergeant Robert Wilson III of the Philadelphia Police Department, who gave his life to protect innocent civilians. Sergeant Wilson put himself in harm’s way during an armed robbery, drawing fire from the assailants and suffering a mortal wound as he kept store employees and customers safe.
The other officers who received the Medal of Valor for their courageous actions between 2013-2015 include:
- Officer Gregory Stevens (Garland Police Department, TX) for demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives. Officer Stevens exchanged gunfire at close range and subdued two heavily-armed assailants preventing a mass shooting.
- Officer Niel Johnson (North Miami Police Department, FL) for swift and valorous action to end a violent crime spree. Officer Johnson pursued a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two other innocent bystanders, withstanding fire from an assault weapon, and apprehended the assailant.
- Special Agent Tyler Call (Federal Bureau of Investigation) for his heroic actions to save a hostage. Special Agent Call, who was off duty with his family, helped rescue a woman from her ex-husband who had violated a restraining order and held the victim at gunpoint.
- Deputy Joey Tortorella (Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, NY) for placing himself in grave danger to protect his community. Deputy Tortorella confronted and subdued a volatile gunman who had shot and wounded his parents inside their home and by doing so prevented the gunman from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.
- Officer Mario Gutierrez (Miami-Dade Police Department, FL) for bravery and composure while enduring a violent attack. Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple stab wounds while subduing a knife-wielding assailant who attempted to set off a massive gas explosion that could have resulted in multiple fatalities.
- Patrolman Louis Cioci (Johnson City Police Department, NY) for courageously resolving a volatile encounter with a gunman. After witnessing the murder of his fellow officer, Patrolman Cioci pursued and apprehended the gunman at a crowded hospital, thereby saving the lives of employees, patients, and visitors.
- Officers Jason Salas and Robert Sparks (Santa Monica Police Department, CA), and Captain Raymond Bottenfield (Santa Monica College Police Department, CA) for courage and composure in ending a deadly rampage. Officer Salas, Officer Sparks, and Captain Bottenfield placed themselves in mortal danger to save the lives of students and staff during a school shooting on the busy campus of Santa Monica College.
- Major David Huff (Midwest City Police Department, OK) for uncommon poise in resolving a dangerous hostage situation. Major Huff saved the life of a two-year-old girl after negotiations deteriorated with a man holding the child captive at knife point.
- Officer Donald Thompson (Los Angeles Police Department, CA) for courageous action to save an accident victim. While off-duty, Officer Thompson traversed two freeway dividers and endured first- and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man to safety from a car moments before it became engulfed in flames.
- Officer Coral Walker (Omaha Police Department, NE) for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter. After exchanging gunfire, Officer Walker single-handedly incapacitated a man who had killed and injured multiple victims on a shooting spree.