5 Inspiring Stories of Police Who Risked Their Lives


cc licensed flickr photo shared by ElvertBarnes

Police officers receive extensive training prior to working the streets and protecting the public. Training alone, however, does not teach anyone to be heroic. Although police officers daily exemplify courage in the line of duty, these five groups of law enforcement personnel demonstrated bravery in the face of daunting circumstances while risking their own safety and lives in the process.

Tony Jansen and Greg Haigis

Tony Jansen and Greg Haigis, of the Highland Heights, Ohio police force, rescued a victim from a burning car in February 2012. When they saw the vehicle, they immediately recognized the gravity of the situation and rushed in to rescue him. Both officers sustained smoke inhalation and burns to their hands. The intense heat and flames could have caused the tires, air bags and gas tank to explode. The mayor and police chief recognized both men with the Distinguished Medal of Valor.

Minneapolis Fifth Precinct Officers

On April 16, 2012, officers from the Minneapolis Fifth Precinct rescued a man who attempted to jump off a bridge onto the interstate. State Troopers closed the entire freeway as they tried to dialogue with the man unsuccessfully. Several trailers parked directly underneath the would-be jumper to cushion his fall. After more than an hour of negotiating, he began to walk toward an officer who successfully snatched him. Three more officers blocked him from jumping. Another officer helped drag the man to safety. All of the officers hung onto each other to keep from falling as none wore safety gear. The man was taken for evaluation and treatment.

Jersey City Police

On January 4, 2012, police officers heroically pulled four victims out of a burning building. Two officers saw flames leaping out of a second-story window. They broke in to rescue those trapped inside the residential building despite suffocating smoke and fire. As they rushed to the second floor, they called for additional officers to aid first floor victims. Two offers sustained smoke inhalation and a third hurt his back. Officers had no breathing equipment and were congratulated by the Jersey City Fire Director and the Police Chief as model officers who protected the community.

Fairfax, Virginia Police

Eight officers responded to a domestic violence call in July 2011, putting themselves in harm’s way after a woman was shot. They called for emergency vehicles as they pulled the woman to safety behind some bushes. Three officers eventually carried the woman to a safer locale despite the fact that the gunman was still at large. Another officer, a trained medic, realized she needed vital emergency equipment and ran to the ambulance, exposing himself to potential gunfire. As some officers moved her to the ambulance, others provided cover with their weapons. After handing the victim over to emergency personnel, all eight blockaded the house where the gunman had barricaded himself. The SWAT team finally relieved them after eight hours.

Keizer, Oregon Police

In September 2011, two police officers pulled a man from a burning car after the vehicle flipped and trapped the victim. The crash disoriented the man who initially resisted the officers’ efforts. The extreme heat threatened to burn them all, but the officers successfully pulled the victim from the car before anyone was burned. The officers eventually received a Medal of Valor for risking their lives in the line of duty.

Eliot Mason is a criminal law attorney and contributor at Top Criminal Justice Schools and is the author of the online criminal justice rankings guide.

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