WATCH: President Biden awards public safety officers Medals of Bravery

President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Valor to 15 public safety officers Monday at the White House, including two officers who died in the line of duty.

Watch Biden’s remarks in the player above.

The Medal of Valor is the highest honor a president can bestow on a public safety officer.

At a ceremony in the East Room, Biden called the honorees “the heart, soul and backbone of this country,” saying they were “the ones who rushed in to help when everyone ran away.” .

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Biden also paid tribute to Aaron Salter, the security guard who lost his life when a gunman opened fire on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, killing ten people.

Salter “gave his life trying to save others,” Biden said.

The Medals of Valor were awarded to nine police officers and six firefighters for acts of bravery in eight different incidents from 2019 to 2021.

The Democratic president has come under pressure from Republicans and others to bring down violent crime across the country, one issue among many that could complicate his party’s chances of retaining control of Congress in the mid-elections. November term.

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Biden announced a strategy to tackle gun crime, including steps to crack down on rogue gun traffickers and slow the spread of untraceable ghost guns, privately-made firearms without a serial number. series.

FBI files released last September suggest Biden inherited a violent crime problem. In 2020, the year before he took office, homicides rose nearly 30% from the previous year, the largest one-year jump documented by the FBI. There were 21,570 murders, the highest since the early 1990s, when homicides remained above 23,000 a year.

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Susan W. Lloyd