Two New York Police Department officers who were ambushed and killed responding to a 911 call and the rookie cop who took down the gunman are among those being honored Wednesday by President Biden with the Medal of Valor, the nation’s highest honor for bravery by a public safety officer. The three NYPD officers, a Houston police officer, Colorado police official, Ohio sheriff’s deputy and three New York City firefighters are the nine who will be receiving medals in a White House ceremony before Biden departs for Japan and the Group of Seven summit, the Associated Press reports. NYPD officer Wilbert Mora and his police partner Jason Rivera were shot Jan. 21, 2022, while responding to a call on a family dispute in a Harlem apartment. Officer Sumit Sulan shot and killed the gunman. Rivera died that night, Mora was pronounced dead four days later.
The fallen cops tried to be catalysts of change when they became police officers, but neither got the chance, gunned down during a spate of shootings of police officers in 2022 in the city. Biden has spoken of the need to reform how police interact with communities after the killing of George Floyd and the deaths of other Black people at the hands of police. He also says law enforcement needs better funding and tools to do a highly stressful job that’s only getting worse, particularly post-pandemic. “We know police officers put their lives on the line every day, and we ask them to do too much, to be counselors, social workers, psychologists; responding to drug overdoses, mental health crises, and more,” Biden said during his State of the Union speech. “We ask too much of them.”