- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

President Obama on Tuesday honored 33 U.S. law enforcement officers who risked their lives — from capturing terrorists to rescuing hostages held at gunpoint — to protect and save others.

“It is an extraordinary privilege to celebrate these cops who have traveled here today to be recognized for their acts of courage,” the president said at the White House ceremony. “These are the men and women who walk the beat and do the difficult job of keeping our neighborhoods safe.”

The honors are known as the Top Cop awards and are given each year by the National Association of Police Organizations.

Among those honored were Fabian Gonzalez, a Phoenix Police Department officer who in April 2008 stopped an armed man who was shooting into a mall crowd while using a security guard as a shield.

Mr. Obama used the event — held on a clear, sunny afternoon in the compound’s Rose Garden — to restate that his administration has helped create and save thousands of police department jobs through $1 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The president also said he wants to spend more money to add an additional 50,000 police-officer jobs.

“You’ve literally walked through fire,” the president said of Boise (Idaho) Police Department officers Chris Davis and Jason Rose.

In August 2008, the officers were among the first to respond to a deadly fire and went house to house to evacuate residents.

The officers became engulfed in flames after a series of explosions but continued to rescue others after using sprinklers to extinguish the flames, which had melted their uniforms, according to NAPO.

Seven Drug Enforcement Agency officers were honored for helping to arrest terrorist Monzer Al Kassar, responsible for supplying the weapons used in the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking.

A U.S. court last year convicted him and two others on multiple terrorism charges.

Special Agents John Archer and William Brown; Assistant Special Agents in Charge Paul Craine, Nicholas Nargi and James Soiles; Supervisory Special Agent Brian Dodd; and Supervisory Special Agent Louis Milione participated in the five-year investigation.

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