WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama honored the nation's top police officers Saturday, paying tribute to their sacrifices and "quiet courage" in the line of duty. Among those honored were five Las Vegas officers who stopped an assailant who shot an officer at a Wal-Mart.
Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, praised the winners of a national police association award at a White House ceremony that honored 34 officers who showed valor in an assortment of tense standoffs, shootings and rescues.
"They are representative of the sacrifices and that quiet courage that exists among law enforcement officers all across the country and their families," Obama said in a Rose Garden ceremony.
The officers were invited to the White House as part of the National Association of Police Organizations' annual TOP COPS awards.
The Metropolitan Police Department officers honored were John Abel, Michael Ramirez, Corey Staheli, Beaumont Hopson and David Williams.
The officers shot and killed felon Marc Hull, 25, after he shot Ramirez several times in the left arm and once in the chest in the early morning shooting Sept. 9 at a Walmart SuperCenter on Rainbow Boulevard, near Spring Mountain Road.
Ramirez was saved by a bulletproof vest, police said. Abel, Hopson and Staheli returned fire, killing Hull.
Other recipients of the prestigious award were 15 members of the Detroit Police Department who confronted a gunman who opened fire in a local precinct station and five New York City police detectives who rescued two cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who had become disoriented while rock climbing.
Other award winners hailed from Los Angeles; Miami; Chicago; Woburn, Mass.; Paramus, N.J.; Copley, Ohio; and Chattanooga, Tenn.
It was Obama's first joint appearance with Biden since the vice president, according to aides, apologized to the president for pushing gay marriage to the forefront of the presidential campaign and inadvertently pressuring Obama to declare his support for same-sex unions.
Obama and Biden were all smiles as they walked to the sun-splashed ceremony together. Introducing Obama, Biden credited the president's commitment to law enforcement, and the two quickly embraced before Obama spoke.
The president lauded Biden as "somebody who has been fighting on behalf of law enforcement all his life." Biden, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was a leading advocate of a community policing program when he served in the Senate.
Obama and Biden later played golf together at Andrews Air Force Base, accompanied by Biden's son, Hunter, and White House aide Marvin Nicholson.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal contributed to this report.