The event is likened to an "Oscars" night for police officers. But it's also a counter-punch by cops against the negative press they often receive, whether on accusations of racial profiling or a corruption scandal like the one gripping Los Angeles.
One of those honored was Alaska State Trooper Scott D. Quist, who made to trips through ice-cold, snowy winter conditions to rescue two men near death from hypothermia. Also a Top Cop is ATF Special Agent Blake L. Boteler, who infiltrated the dangerous "Sons of Silence" motorcycle gang.
Dozens of other cops received honorable mentions for acts of courage and cunning.
Sergeant K.C. "Pat" Saulet and his deputy, Joe Craig, of the Shoreline, Wash. police department are among the thirteen "Top Cops," reports CBS News Correspondent Phil Jones.
On Memorial Day weekend last year, the streets of Shoreline, a Seattle neighborhood, suddenly turned into a battle zone.
Police were responding to a man who had murdered three people and seriously wounded three others. He fired more than 200 rounds. Officer Diana Russell was hit.
"A 30.06 round came through the glass of the patrol car and angled down and bounced off my skull and fractured it," she recalled.
When they learned a fellow officer was down, Saulet and Craig acted responded.
"K.C. said. 'Let's go get her,' and I said, 'Okay,'" said Craig.
"We drove right down the line of fire and picked her up, (Craig) scooped in, grabbed her and put her into the patrol car," remembered Saulet. "I put in the reverse and drove like a bat of hell."
"They definitely saved my life and I'll never forget that," said Russell. "They are two heroes to me and they always will be."
The Shoreline cops say they don't think of themselves that way. Craig figures he "could have gotten shot at the time," but says he didn't think about it.
But what top cops like Saulet and Craig do feel is the impact of incidences involving what the media depicts as questionable behavior by copshigh profile cases like the videotaped beating of a suspect by Philadelphia police officers, racial profiling in New Jersey, and shootings of unarmed black men in New York like Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond.
But Saulet and Craig think times have changed, at least for them.
"Right after Rodney King, there was a backlash for a while with us," said Saulet, "but that went away."
Edwin Delarttre of Boston University, ho has written about bad and good cops, said, "I've seen police who were unjust, police who were cowardly, police who were intemperate and police who were dishonest, but I've seen many more police I would rely on in circumstances from normal to the very grim."
Cops are well aware that grim, often dangerous, circumstances are part of their job.
At Washington's memorial wall for police officers who have died in the line of duty there are over 14,000 namesa dramatic reminder to those who survive.
"It's really sad to see so many names upon this wall," said Saulet. "Diana's name could have been up there but my name and Joe's name could have been up there along with the other people's that day. We were just lucky."