Obama honors 13 police officers with Medals of Valor

Obama recognizes police officers for valor
Obama recognizes police officers for valor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Barack Obama on Monday awarded the United States' top honor for law enforcement to 13 police officers who protected citizens while putting themselves in danger, including one killed in the line of duty.

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In a White House ceremony, Obama said the officers honored with the Public Safety Medal of Valor had helped to save countless lives.

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"The public safety officers we recognize today with the Medal of Valor found courage not in search of recognition, they did it instinctively."

The 13 honorees included Philadelphia Police Sergeant Robert Wilson III, who was killed last year at a video store where he had stopped to buy his son a gift.

Two armed robbers entered the store and were confronted by Wilson, who stepped away from employees and customers to be sure they were out of the line of fire. Wilson died in the shootout.

See more from the ceremony in the gallery below:

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Another officer, Los Angeles Police Officer Donald Thompson, suffered first-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man from a car on a freeway just before it burst into flames, Obama said.

The Public Safety Medal of Valor recognizes police, firefighters and other first responders for exceptional courage.

More than 35 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty this year, Obama said. He told the audience he had just signed into law a package of bills to honor and protect law enforcement officers, including one that helps state and local departments buy body armor.

Law Enforcement Fatalities Graphiq