WASHINGTONN — Six Dayton police officers who stopped a shooter last month after he killed nine persons were awarded the nation’s highest decoration for bravery of public safety officials Monday morning by President Donald Trump.
“Who knew, and who can even understand, how many lives would have been taken if they didn’t act so quickly?” early Aug. 4 in the city’s Oregon District, Trump said in the East Room of the White House.
“Few people could have done, and would have done, what they did,” he said, calling the group “unbelievably exceptional Americans.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley tweeted, “So proud of our fearless @DaytonPolice. They exemplify #DaytonStrong in so many ways.”
But even though Whaley was in Washington, she was not tweeting from inside the White House. The Democratic mayor, who has been harshly criticized by and critical of Trump, was not invited.
Instead, Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Attorney General Dave Yost, both Republicans, were on hand. Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman was listed among those expected to attend, but he did not, a spokeswoman said. Gov. Mike DeWine is on a trade mission in Japan.
The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor is comparable to the Medal of Honor awarded to military heroes. The Dayton recipients include officers Sgt. William C. Knight, Vincent Carter, David Denlinger, Ryan Nabel, Brian Rolfes and Jeremy Campbell.
Five civilians who acted to prevent further carnage in a mass shooting that killed 22 the previous day in El Paso were given certificates of commendation by the president.
“Our nation is shocked and enraged by these inhuman and sadistic acts of bloodshed,” Trump said. “We fail to comprehend how any person could be so warped by malice and contempt. Every heart breaks for the families who lost precious loved ones, and every American grieves for those who were so cruelly taken from us.”
The Dayton officers, “without a moment’s hesitation, immediately and courageously engaged the gunman, ending his attack and rescuing countless lives,” the president said.
“To each of you, we are in awe of your swift response, sterling professionalism, and rock-solid nerves of steel. On behalf of our entire nation, we thank you for your remarkable and heroic actions in the line of duty.”
Attorney General William Barr said, “For the people out in Dayton that night, these officers were the thin blue line between life and death.”
Yost said, “With danger at the door and their community crying out for help, these officers acted swiftly and effectively to stop further loss of life. When in moments of unthinkable danger and chaos, these officers relied on their training and instinct to protect their communities — and we will forever be grateful for these heroes’ actions.”