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Capitol police officers receive Congressional Gold Medals

D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee participates in a ceremony to award officers the Congressional Gold Medal at the U.S. Capitol on December 6, 2022. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Members of the United States Capitol Police and Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police department received the Congressional Gold Medal on Tuesday, for defending the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

At the award ceremony, leaders from both parties described vivid memories of the riot that day and the bravery of officers who responded to the chaos.

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"January 6 was a day of horror and heartbreak; it is also a moment of extraordinary heroism -- staring down deadly violence and despicable bigotry," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said.

Family members of Brian Sicknick, U.S. Capitol Police officer who died in the days following the attack, notably refused to shake hands with Republican leaders during the ceremony.

Several officers have criticized Republicans for downplaying the attack. However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was on hand to thank the officers.

"To all the law enforcement officers who keep this country safe: thank you," McCarthy said. "Too many people take that for granted, but days like today force us to realize how much we owe the thin blue line."

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, who accepted a medal on behalf of his department, told NPR a day before the ceremony that while there is still more work to do, the force is "much better prepared" to respond to future threats to the Capitol. However, he said he does worry about some of the ongoing activities of extremist groups.

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"I do lose some sleep over the fact that some of these extremist groups are still active," Manger said.

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