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4 Police Officers Who Responded To Tree Of Life Massacre Among 30 Officers Recognized For Bravery

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Four police officers who responded during the Tree of Life shooting were among the 30 officers who were commended for their valor.

More than 400 law enforcement officials and supporters gathered at the Amen Corner's annual H. John Heinz Police Awards Ceremony at the Sheraton Station Square on Friday.

Michael Smidga — currently on deployment with the U.S. Army — Daniel Mead, Tim Matson, and Anthony Burke were the four city police officers honored for responding to the synagogue last year.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The officers received a standing ovation, and the Act of Valor Award was presented by Stan and Lynette Lederman — members of Tree of Life.

In a moving address, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life praised the officers, drawing the distinction between Kristallnacht, when Nazis pillaged Jewish synagogues and businesses while German police stood guard, doing nothing.

"They did not rush to help their fellow citizens. They stood by. They were complicit in this crime," said Myers, recounting the 1938 event. "Eighty years later, a lone gunman murdered 11 people in Tree of Life whose crime was being Jewish. The police did not stand guard. They rushed in to save lives, including mine."

Rabbi Myers told KDKA political editor Jon Delano, who was one of the presenters at the ceremony, that recognition events like this are the least we can do to recognize police.

Myers: "All wonderful, good caring people."

Delano: "Do you think we as a community do enough to say thank you?"

Myers: "No, we never do. We never can."

Myers says police don't get the respect they deserve, but he hopes it can be different here in Pittsburgh.

"I like to think we can be a role model for the rest of the country," Myers said.

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