Officer Keith Receives Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor at White House Ceremony
Posted on February 11, 2015
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today congratulated Knoxville Police Department Officer Andrew Michael Keith, who was presented a Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor by Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder today at the White House.
“Tennesseans depend every day on the brave men and women who work in law enforcement, and Officer Keith’s actions on March 13, 2012, exemplify that bravery,” said Alexander. “By putting himself in harm’s way and acting quickly, Officer Keith not only saved Sergeant Russell’s life – he showed all of us what dedicated public service looks like."
“Officer Keith’s heroic response to a Tennessee Highway Patrol car that was on fire helped save the life of Sergeant Lowell Russell and exemplifies the meaning of valor,” said Corker. “I am proud to join my fellow Tennesseans in congratulating Officer Keith on this well-deserved honor and in thanking him and all law enforcement officers across the country who go above and beyond the call of duty to keep our communities safe.”
This award, authorized by the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2001, is the highest national award for valor presented to a public safety officer. The medal is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life. Including today’s awardees, a total of 95 medals have been presented since the first recipients were honored in 2003. For more information about the award, click here.
Background information on Officer Keith, as provided by the White House:
Officer Keith receives the award for his heroic and quick reaction on March 13, 2012 to a Tennessee Highway Patrol car on fire after a collision with a truck. The car’s driver, Sgt. Lowell Russell, was unconscious and trapped in the vehicle.
When Officer Keith reached the scene, he radioed dispatch for the fire department to respond and used his shirt to beat back the flames while trying to reach the injured trooper. When he was able to make contact, he positioned Trooper Russell to keep the flames away from his body, while two citizens assisted in cutting Trooper Russell from his seatbelt. After freeing the trooper, Officer Keith then took control of the scene and kept people away from the vehicle, which exploded from a discharge of ammunition within. Due to the diligence of Officer Keith and the concerned citizens, Sgt. Russell survived the accident and his injuries and began rehabilitation a few weeks later.
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