Created in 2001 by Congress, the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor (MOV) is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage to save or protect others from harm, regardless of their personal safety. The MOV is the highest national award for civilian public safety officers and is awarded by the President. With the MOV nomination period now open, the Bureau of Justice Assistance encourages public safety agencies nationwide to submit their nominations.
Recipients come from communities nationwide and have various backgrounds from law enforcement, fire service, and other first responder agencies. In May 2022, President Biden presented the MOV to 15 public safety officers, including fallen Lieutenant Jared Lloyd of the Spring Valley Fire Department, New York, and fallen Officer Jason Shuping of the Concord Police Department, North Carolina.
President Biden bestowed upon Police Officer Anthony Giorgio an MOV for his bravery in saving individuals who were drowning in the Gulf of Mexico on Mother's Day weekend, 2021. Officer Giorgio was off duty at the beach when he heard cries for help from children caught in a rip current in choppy waters. Despite the danger, Officer Giorgio sprinted into the water and rescued one child who was drifting in and out of consciousness. He went back into the water to save another child and swam him to the safety of the beach. Officer Giorgio entered the water a third and final time to help an adult swim back to the shore. After rescuing three people, he and others administered first aid.
Three California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officers Ryan Smith and Vince Mendoza and retired CHP Officer Robert Paul also received the MOV. Officer Paul was assisting CHP Officer Andre Moye Jr. with an enforcement stop and vehicle impound when the suspect suddenly retrieved a rifle from his car and opened fire. Officer Moye was struck and killed, and Officer Paul immediately drew his weapon and engaged the suspect before radioing "Officer down." Officer Paul was shot multiple times in his legs but held off the suspect despite life-threatening injuries until backup arrived.
Other CHP units immediately responded along with teams from the Riverside Police Department and Riverside County Sheriff's Department. Officer Smith arrived after several minutes, and his patrol vehicle immediately took rounds from the suspect. Officer Smith exited his vehicle, returned fire, and pulled Officer Paul to safety. Officer Mendoza then arrived and shot at the suspect with a rifle, drawing fire away from Officers Smith and Paul.
In the fall of 2022, Firefighter Abraham Miller of the Fire Department of New York responded to a fire at a six-story, non-fireproof, multifamily dwelling. Upon reaching the roof, Firefighter Miller began his perimeter check and immediately heard screams. Together with another firefighter, they commenced a roof rope rescue. While tying into his harness, Firefighter Miller maintained contact with the frightened occupants by yelling to them that help was on the way. When he arrived at the window, there was heavy smoke, a window child gate, and an intact glass window. He broke the glass and calmly took hold of the child, then transmitted a message that he had secured the victim. Firefighter Miller and the child were then lowered to safety.
These MOV recipients represent our nation's public safety officers who demonstrate bravery above and beyond the call of duty. Now is the time to nominate the public safety officers in your community for their courage in the face of danger. MOV Program nominations are now open until August 8 for acts of bravery between June 1, 2021, and May 31, 2022. Nominations must come from the agency head of the public safety agency employing the nominee(s). For more information on how to nominate someone for the Medal of Valor, please visit: bja.ojp.gov/program/medalofvalor.