On Wednesday, February 11, 2015, HAPCOA National Board 3rd Vice-President Richard Rosa (Supervisory Federal Air Marshal) attended the Public Safety Medal of Valor award ceremony hosted by Vice President Joseph Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder in the Dwight David Eisenhower Office Building on the White House complex. 

This award, authorized by the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2001, is the highest national award for valor presented to public safety officers.  To date, only 95 medals have been awarded since 2003.  This year’s awardees were acknowledged for demonstrating extraordinary courage in performance of their sworn duties to safeguard human life, without regard for their own.

Prior to the awarding of the medals Vice President Biden and AG Holder provided remarks about their experience and appreciation of Law Enforcement.

AG Holder was very respectful and complimentary of law enforcement.  He disclosed that his brother was a retired law enforcement officer.  He touted current programs such as the COP Hiring Initiative by President Obama; VALOR Initiative 2010; and the Bullet Proof Vest Partnership Program.  He also discussed meeting with community leaders to reduce tensions, and the President's Taskforce on 21st Century Policing.  In closing, he acknowledged how law enforcement ‘confronts every threat they face and their commitment to safeguard its people’.  He mentioned that the incoming AG Loretta Lynch is a lifelong supporter of law enforcement.  Lastly, he is honored to stand with law enforcement officers and the moral charge.

Vice President Biden remarked, “AG Holder is a great ally in law enforcement”.  He commented on how he (Biden) is, “Honored to be with law enforcement on many occasions”.  VP Biden expressed how thankful he is for being part of the Medal of Valor ceremony.  These awardees are being singled out for their devotion to duty.  It’s instinctive – you run into the danger; not away from it … without concern for your own safety.  With respect to law enforcement in general he went on to say, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, the Deep South or Long Island.  The answer is ALWAYS the same:  “I was just doing my job.”

VP Biden stated, “I know you, I owe you!”  Today we honor your for your bravery but for your professionalism as well. Two of the honored law enforcement officers died as a result of their involvement in separate off-duty incidents.  In addressing their heroic actions, VP Biden quoted from an Irish headstone:  “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”  VP Biden acknowledged and recognized, “Even spouses are married to the JOB!”

In closing, VP Biden said, “You’re a rare breed.  You’re crazy.”  God bless Police and Firefighters and their families.