Lieutenant Xavier Torres of Azusa Pacific University’s Department of Campus Safety, was awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, along with six members of the Azusa Police Department (APD) at a May 22, 2019, ceremony at the White House. President Donald Trump recognized the officers for their heroic efforts during an active shooter incident that took place on Election Day, November 8, 2016.
These officers received the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor for going above and beyond the call of duty. The officers responded to an active shooter in Azusa who shot three elderly people near a polling place. Torres and Senior Officer Carlos Plasencia raced through a hail of bullets to save a woman who had been shot. At the same time, Sergeant Seth Chapman, Sergeant Terry Smith, and Corporal Andrew Rodriguez returned fire. Sergeant Thomas Avila III, Sergeant Rocky Wenrick and Detective Manuel Campos, of the Irwindale Police Department, drew the gunman out of the house, ending the threat.
“To each of you, you represent the unity, devotion, teamwork and swift action that makes America’s law enforcement the best and bravest anywhere in the world. Well done, and I want to thank you all for being here,” Trump said. “Every officer, firefighter, and first responder who receives this award embodies the highest ideals of service and sacrifice, character and courage, love and loyalty. Your lives, your patriotism, your devotion to duty and your deeds of valor lift up our entire nation. Today and every day, we thank God that you were there when our communities needed you the most.”
Paul Dennis, executive director of APU’s Department of Campus Safety, said that members of his team gathered together to watch online as President Trump bestowed the award. “We are all so proud of Xavier and his recognition at the White House,” said Dennis. “He brings with him an immense amount of experience and knowledge. Having worked alongside Xavier at the Azusa Police Department for 27 years, I know firsthand of his steadfast character and how his valuable skill sets will enhance the security of our community.”
Torres retired from the APD last year after more than three decades in law enforcement. He served many roles during that time including 10 years as a narcotics detective, 4 years as a person's crimes detective, and 16 years as a member of the SWAT Team. Torres was also a member of the department’s training cadre and a police academy instructor for several years. During his career, Torres earned his M.A. in Leadership from APU. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2005, and then to the rank of Lieutenant in 2017.
Watch the video of Torres and the other officers receiving the award. (APD officers honored at 8:15 mark, 16:00 mark)
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