Obama awards Medal of Valor to 13 police officers

President Obama awarded the nation’s highest honor for law enforcement to 13 police officers Monday, recognizing officers who put themselves in harm’s way — one fatally — to protect citizens.

The Public Safety Medal of Valor recognizes police, firefighters and other first responders for exceptional courage. Obama said the actions of the 13 recognized Monday helped to save countless lives.

“To a person, each of these honorees acted without regard to their own safety,” Obama said in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House evoking the formality of a military Medal of Honor presentation. “We’re so grateful they were there — some off duty, others on duty, and all rising above and beyond the call of duty.”

The ceremony, held during National Police Week, came shortly after Obama signed into law two police-related bills renewing a bulletproof vest grant program and allowing free U.S. Capitol flags for the families of fallen first responders.