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Detective Omar Edwards Posthumously Awarded Medal of Honor; Department's Highest Award

Sergeant Who Survived Multiple Stab Wounds to His Eye and Brain Also Presented with Medal of Honor

Yesterday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly honored 51 members of the New York City Police Department at the 2010 Medal Day ceremony.

Detective Omar Edwards was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is the Department's highest award, bestowed since 1871 for acts of gallantry and valor performed above and beyond the call of duty. The Mayor and Police Commissioner were joined by family members of the honorees at the ceremony at One Police Plaza.
"All the men and women we honor today have shown a willingness to put themselves in harm's way to protect others," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Many have endured serious injuries in that noble pursuit. And sadly some have lost their lives. Today's ceremony is one way of showing that we don't take for granted the work our police officers and it is also our opportunity to renew our commitment to protecting all those who have sworn to protect us."

"I want to congratulate every command and every officer being recognized this morning," said Commissioner Kelly. "There is no question that, in the words of Sir Walter Scott, you have performed extraordinary public service for the people of this City. We are deeply grateful for everything Omar Edwards accomplished, and for the many lives he touched in the time that he was with us. In two years he and his fellow officers drove crime in housing developments down 20 percent, vastly improving conditions for the nearly half-million people who live in public housing. It is with pride, great sadness and immeasurable gratitude that we present the Medal of Honor to his family."

Detective Edwards was pursuing a criminal who had broken into his parked car near a Housing Division station house in East Harlem when he was killed by police fire. He served the Department for two years as a police officer assigned to the Housing Bureau Manhattan Impact Response Team, until his death in May 2009. Despite his brief career, Detective Edwards effected two dozen arrests.

Also awarded the Medal of Honor Tuesday was Sergeant Timothy Smith, a 13-year veteran of the Department. Sergeant Smith was responding to a violent, emotionally disturbed individual in the 101st Precinct last January when he was stabbed in his face and upper body by a man who had gone off his antipsychotic medication. Sgt. Smith sustained massive injuries to his left eye and brain but was released from the hospital after four months of intense rehabilitative therapy, which he continues now.

In addition, 49 other members of the service were presented Tuesday with Departmental honors, as follows.

Distinguished Service Medal - conferred upon the family of a member of the service who succumbed to illness associated with exceptional duty, performed with great responsibility, under unusual hazard or demand. Eleven members of the service who succumbed to illnesses contracted during the rescue and recovery effort in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks have received the Distinguished Service Medal:

 Inspector Richard Winter  Police Officer Louise Johnston
 Lieutenant Brian Mohamed  Police Officer Vito Mauro
 Lieutenant Gerald Rex  Police Officer Gary Mausberg
 Detective Michael Morales  Police Officer Christopher McMurry
 Police Officer Daniel Conroy  Police Officer Robert Nicosia
 Police Officer Renee Dunbar  

Police Combat Cross - The Department's second highest award, bestowed for extraordinary acts of heroism while engaged in personal struggle with an armed adversary under circumstances of imminent personal hazard. Twenty members of the service including one retiree received the Police Combat Cross:

 Lt. Larry Burnham  Det. Benjamin White
 Sgt. Michael Gargan  P.O. Nicholas Colucci
 Sgt. Brian Holland  P.O. Gregory Garraputa
 Sgt. Raul Irizarry  P.O. Edward Moore
 Sgt. Joseph Jette  P.O. Lynwood Pleasant
 Sgt. Sean Lynskey  P.O. David Pralgo
 Sgt. Scott Mckenna  P.O. Robert Romano
 Sgt. Michael Raso  P.O. Thomas Rouse
 Sgt. Kenneth Zepherin  P.O. Keith Stroming
 (Ret.) Sgt. Timothy Deevy  
 Det. Kenneth Rice  

Medal of Valor - The Department's third highest award, granted for acts of outstanding personal bravery performed in the line of duty and at imminent personal hazard to life, under circumstances evincing disregard for personal consequence. Fifteen members of the service received the Medal of Valor:

 Sgt. Felipe Gomez  Det. Frank Sarrica 
 Sgt. Kenneth Russo  Det. Anthony Schaffer
 (Ret.) Sgt. John Boesch  P.O. Rory Mangra
 Det. Michael Corvi  P.O. Brian McIvor
 Det. John Lunt  P.O. Erik Merizalde
 Det. Timothy Murphy  P.O. Charles Steiger
 Det. Michael O'Brien  P.O. Michael Tavolario
 Det. Frank Pinto  

Purple Shield - awarded to members of the service who have suffered extreme serious physical injury, permanent disfigurement, or protracted or permanent impairment of health or any bodily function. Three members of the service were honored with the Purple Shield on Tuesday:

Det. Eric Grimes
P.O. Scot Abrams
P.O. Keith Winchell

Unit Citations - Personnel assigned to the following commands were recognized for outstanding performance in sustaining a high level of service to the City of New York in 2009:

 Transit Impact Response Team  Housing Bureau PSA 7
 Midtown South Precinct  47th Precinct
 School Safety Division  68th Precinct
 Domestic Violence Unit  Office of Chief Medical Examiner Liaison Unit
 Gang Division  Personnel Orders Section
 Patrol Borough Queens North Anti-Crime Unit