HOUSTON, TX-- The Hyatt Regency downtown was probably the safest spot in Houston Monday. It was the kickoff to National Police Week, and the place was a sea of blue.
"I want to thank all of the police officers," said Mayor Sylvester Tuirner. "Quite frankly, you don't get enough attention."
Mayor Turner and acting police chief Martha Montalvo handed out 30 awards to HPD officers and civilians who go above and beyond the call of duty. Officers like partners Jonathan Saldana & Steven Ticas, who on Mother's Day, ran up three floors in a burning apartment building to rescue a mom and her two kids. "I think it's kinda in our nature to wanna help and do all we can," said Saldana, just two years on the force.
Officer Amie Flowers received the Reactive Investigator of the Year award for her work on behalf of sexually abused kids. "I have a three and a half year old daughter myself," she said, "so everyday when I get home, I hug her and I kiss her, so I know that there's hope."
Officer Reagan Bice won Rookie of the Year for stopping a home invasion robbery ring. But he would rather his work in the more crime-ridden parts of town win over the hearts of neighborhood residents, "I would hope that the community can eventually realize that diligent work from officers like myself and my partner... are helping make our community safer and our citizens safer."
After 23 years with HPD, Cedric E. Williams proudly accepted the Senior Police Officer of the Year award, "It means the world to me. I go out every day and work hard. I do it because I love it. I love my job and I just appreciate somebody recognizing what we do."
President Obama hosted a similar event at the White House Monday, handing out 13 Medals of Valor to law enforcement officers. "It's because of your courage-- sometimes seen, sometimes unseen," he told the audience, "that the rest of us can go about living our lives like it's any other day."
Acting HPD chief Montalvo said police work takes a special type of person, "This has to be a job that you feel in your heart. It has to be a calling for service.... You know, not everybody can be a hero, and I think in a lot of cases, these men and women are."