The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor
Most of us have heard of the Medal of Honor, the award given to those in military service that have demonstrated some extraordinary act of selfless bravery. But did you know that in 2001, Congress authorized a similar award for America’s finest public safety officers? It is called the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor. Awarded in person by the President or Vice President of the United States, it is the highest national honor a public safety officer can be given.
A public safety officer is a person (living or deceased) who at the time of the valorous incident served in a public agency, with or without compensation, as a firefighter; law enforcement officer, including a corrections, court, or civil defense officer; or emergency services officer, as determined by the U.S. Attorney General. *
In order to be nominated, public safety officers must have exhibited exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of their own personal safety, in an attempt to save or protect human life. Their actions must be considered to be above and beyond the call of duty. **
Above and beyond the call of duty. So many of our public safety officers have faced exactly that in 2020. Of course this is not the only year our brave first responders have faced dangers and challenges and made the choice to stand up and be counted for the public good.
Some of the past recipients of the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor include:
- Fire Captain Dustin Moore and Firefighter Paramedic Andrew Freisner from the Lenexa Fire Department in Kansas. These two were honored for risking their lives to rescue a family from a burning apartment building.
- Senior Trooper Nicholas Cederberg of the Oregon State Police was honored for placing himself in the line of fire and suffering life-threatening injuries in order to bring a murderer to justice.
- Officer Andrew Hopfensperger Jr. from the Antigo Police Department in Wisconsin was honored for saving many lives during a gunman’s assault on students at a prom.
- Sergeant William Buchanan of Avery County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina, and Emergency Medical Technician Sean Ochsenbein, from Putnam County Rescue Squad in Tennessee, were honored for rescuing a trapped driver from a burning car.
- Fallen Officer Brent Thompson, from the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Department in Texas, was posthumously honored for giving his life while engaging a deadly mass shooter. He saved the lives of countless civilians and fellow officers during a protest march.
These amazing and heroic acts of sacrifice should be recognized nationally. We at Thin Line News believe in honoring these brave public safety officers too. Our mission is to stand with those who stand for others and recognizing those that make the sacrifices every day is an important part of it here for us. For all the quiet heroism out there, it is still a bit of a shock to know this award is such a recent development on the national level.
Nominate your own officer:
If you are a chief executive or agency head of your public safety organization, and you would like to submit one of your own people for the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, you can go to the official website and nominate one of your own during the open nomination period.
. . .exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of their own personal safety, in an attempt to save or protect human life. . .
Thank you for standing in the gap.