Established by Bill Clinton, the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor has long stood as a recognition of the officers who go beyond the call of duty to protect civilians. Today, in the White House's East Room, President Donald Trump honored fourteen public service officers with The Public Service Officer Medal of Valor.
Today’s Medal of Valor ceremony at the White House started at 3:20 pm with the entrance of the officers followed by President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr. Service men and women were scattered throughout the crowd to honor their comrades. Out of the two million public safety officers who serve each year, only about twelve are honored with this yearly award. Overall, fourteen public safety officers were honored this year, two of which were posthumous awards done in a private ceremony.
The ceremony began in earnest with William Barr’s remarks about the commitment of the Trump administration to the public safety officers and first responders in the United States. Trump spoke after AG Barr and acknowledged the burden of the families of public safety officers who support them throughout their struggle to protect civilians. their deeds of valor “lift up our entire nation,” he said. Also in attendance were Assistant to the President and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Senator Rob Portman (OH), Representative Clay Higgins (LA), and Representative Pete Stauber (MN).
Who Got The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor
The first man honored was Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Nic Cederberg, who took twelve bullets, five in the vest and seven into his body, while chasing a murderer who shot his estranged wife on Christmas night 2016. While chasing the murderer into a dead end, Cederberg was hit with the murderer’s car before taking heavy fire. He continued firing until assistance from his fellow officers arrived. Despite his life-threatening injuries, he survived though a bullet remains logged in his spine. President Trump remarked that Cederberg looked good despite the twelve gunshots.
The second man honored was Ohio State University Law Enforcement Officer Alan Horujko who stopped an ISIS inspired terrorist, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, from killing innocent student in the November 28th, 2016 terrorist attack. The terrorist drove his car into a crowd of students and began to go after people with a knife. When told to put his knife down and after refusing, officer Horujko shot and killed the man within less than a minute according to witnesses.
The next two to be honored were Fire Captain Dustin Moore and Firefighter Paramedic Andrew Friesner of the Lenexa Fire Department in Kansas. On April 24th, 2017, they rescued a woman and two small children from the second floor of an apartment building and who were described as “within minutes of perishing from the flames.” They also rescued the family dog.
The next eight men to be honored were Retired Lieutenant Xavier Torres, Sergeant Seth Chapman, Retired Sergeant Terry Smith Jr., Sergeant Thomas Avila III, Sergeant Rocky Wenwrick, Retired Corporal Andrew Rodriguez Sr., Senior Officer Carlos Plascencia, and Detective Manuel Campos from the Irwindale Police Department in California. They responded to a mass shooting on November 8th, 2016, Election Day. Working as a team with the Azusa Police Department, these men were able to stop a man from continuing to injure and kill voting civilians at Memorial Park. Officer Plascencia and Torres helped a woman who already suffered a gunshot wound to her head. Sergeants Smith and Chapman along with Corporal Rodriguez returned the gunman’s fire at the east of his home while Corporals Avila and Wenrick along with Detective Compos left their positions in the west to draw the shooter out in the open where he was ultimately killed.
The two men who were honored posthumously were Sergeant Verdell Smith Sr. and Officer Brent Thompson. Sergeant Smith of the City of Memphis Police Department in Tennessee maintained peace on the historic Beale Street on June 4th, 2016. At 10:00pm, a triple shooting suspect got away with a stolen vehicle in Smith’s direction. As Smith moved civilians out of the line of fire, he was struck by the car and died in a local hospital.
On July 7th 2016, Dallas Officer Brent Thompson was on duty during a demonstration against law enforcement which became violent. A gunman opened fire on the police and Thompson charged across the road to fire on the shooter where he was shot and killed instantly. Donald Trump remarked that “his courage saved lives.”
President Trump remarked that the men on state were “tremendous people,” and it was an “amazing honor,” for him to yet again be presenting these wards to them as guests in the White House.
The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor has long been a tradition
Donald Trump is the only President to have presented awards himself all three years of his presidency, showing his commitment to public safety officers in their struggles to protect the citizens of the United States.
As an award given by the President or Vice President every year, The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor has long been a tradition to recognize public safety officers who go above and beyond expectation to protect civilians; this means that officers often risk bodily harm and death. Public safety officers who received the award often include police officers, state troopers, and fire men and women. Often, these officers are at the front of gun violence incidents ranging from terrorism to school or event shootings, where many or many more could have lost their lives but did not due to the brave actions of these officers. The presentations of these awards this year comes close to Memorial Day, a fitting time for such an occasion.