Governor Crist Honors Law Enforcement Officers & Firefighters

Presents Governor’s Medal of Heroism & Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Medal of Valor and Life Saving Medal ~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today presented awards to 14 Florida law enforcement officers and one firefighter who have demonstrated exceptional courage by risking their own lives to save the lives of others. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey and representatives from the public safety community joined the Governor for the award ceremony, held in the Senate Chamber of the Historic Capitol, to recognize the heroic acts of the officers.

“Florida’s law enforcement officers are among the finest in the nation, and each day they willingly serve their communities and fellow Floridians through selfless and courageous acts,” Governor Crist said. “On behalf of all Floridians, we thank them for their service and their sacrifices.”

Governor’s Medal of Heroism 

Governor Crist presented the Governor’s Medal of Heroism to 10 local law enforcement officers and one firefighter. Recipients of the award have distinguished themselves through hazardous or perilous activities to preserve lives, even at the risk of great personal harm. The award was created by the 2003 Legislature, and recipients are selected by the Governor’s Medal of Heroism Committee, appointed by the Governor, from nominations made on the Web site of the Fraternal Order of Police Florida State Lodge.

The award was presented to the following individuals:

· Charles Sloan, sergeant with the Bradenton Police Department, and Mike Pilato, officer with the Holmes Beach Police Department, for rescuing occupants of a car in Sarasota Bay, April 8, 2006.

· Roberto Ruiz, officer with the Altamonte Springs Police Department, for rescuing a mother and her daughter from a burning apartment, November 11, 2003. Officer Brian Lipsey, a previous medal winner for his acts during the same incident, thought that Officer Ruiz’s assistance in the rescue was equally deserving of the award, and he subsequently was nominated and selected by the committee.

· Ryan Jurjevich, officer with the Tampa Police Department, for rescuing a drowning woman in Tampa Bay, January 28, 2008.

· Luis King, detective with the Miami Beach Police Department, and David Anderson, firefighter with the Miami Beach Fire Department, for rescuing two children from a burning boat in Miami Beach, March 31, 2008.

· Officer Darrell Diez, Officer John Gee, Sergeant James Gregory, and Officer Gary Zito – all with the Palm Springs Police Department – for rescuing three crash victims from a burning pick-up truck, August 14, 2008.

· Malachi McCoy, sheriff’s deputy in Hillsborough County, for rescuing officers shot by a mentally ill offender, June 7, 2008.

“The officers honored today have answered the call of duty with honor and distinction,” Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp said. “They are shining examples of what every law enforcement officer and every firefighter throughout our state does every single day, and we thank each of their for their service.”

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Medal of Valor 

The Medal of Valor, established in December 2007, is presented to FDLE agents who display exceptional service to the community by risking his or her life in the performance of a hazardous duty in the line of duty, which includes protection of life or property, enforcement of laws, preservation of the public peace, and prevention of criminal acts or apprehension of criminals. The ribbon displays a “V” with a blue background.

The Medal of Valor was presented to FDLE special agents Bob Ura and Paul Ura, brothers of Valrico, for apprehending a gunman in Las Vegas while vacationing with their families there to attend a wedding, July 6, 2007.

“Choosing to serve others is not a job, it’s a calling,” said Commissioner Bailey. “These four agents put duty above self, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is extremely proud of their courageous actions.”

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Life Saving Medal 

The Life Saving Medal, also established in December 2007, may be presented to any FDLE employee who renders assistance to a person in need and saves that person’s life. The Life Saving Medal was presented to FDLE Special Agents Thomas Bacon of Palm Beach and James Born of Lake Worth for rescuing a family from a car in a canal and a young girl who had been ejected from the car, August 3, 2008.

To nominate individuals for the Governor’s Medal of Heroism, please visit and click on “Medal of Heroism.”