Every day, public safety officers risk their lives to protect America's citizens and communities. To honor that commitment, Congress passed The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2001, which created the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer. The medal is awarded annually by the President or Vice President to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.
A "public safety officer" is a person (living or deceased) who is serving or has served in a public agency, with or without compensation, as a firefighter; law enforcement officer, including a corrections, court, or civil defense officer; or emergency services officer, as determined by the U.S. Attorney General.
An act of valor is defined as:
- Above and beyond the call of duty; and
- exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind.
- unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in an attempt to save or protect human life.
See the Medal of Valor site to learn more.