The president told those gathered in the Rose Garden that the winners of the National Association of Police Organizations' Top Cops award "are a pretty humble group" who "just do their jobs," but in his mind they are heroes.
"What else do you call a team that takes down a deranged gunman and saves countless lives? Or a unit that flies a helicopter into dangerous winds, and pulls off a daring nighttime rescue? Or an officer who, after being shot three times, switches her gun from her right hand to her left, so that she can return fire until backup arrives?" Obama asked.
"I guarantee you that when the bullets were flying, when lives were on the line, these men and women weren't thinking about bravery. They weren't thinking of themselves. Instead, they were looking out for their fellow officers, and for the civilians that they swore to protect. And when they return home, they'll go back to being just another member of the team.
"But they've earned this moment. Today, we celebrate 34 extraordinary individuals, and we recognize the sacrifices they and their fellow officers make."
The president said the nation "will be forever in debt to those who wear the badge; to men and women with a deep sense of duty, and a willingness to serve and sacrifice on our behalf."
"And I think these individuals don't mind me saying that they are representative of the sacrifices and that quiet courage that exists among law enforcement officers all across the country -- and their families, because I know the strains of families in such a difficult job is significant as well," Obama said.